ROME -- Ugo Tognazzi, 68, a bookkeeper who became one of Italy's leading comic actors and achieved international fame with his role in "La Cage Aux Folles," died of a stroke here Oct. 27.
Mr. Tognazzi, who first appeared in Italian films in the 1950s, became one of the country's leading screen personalities in the 1960s with his ability to play supporting roles or comic and dramatic leads with equal skill.
He was best known in the United States for his role as a homosexual cabaret owner in the 1979 film adaptation of "La Cage Aux Folles," a bedroom farce that was a stage hit. He also appeared in a 1980 sequel to the movie.
He was born in Cremona. Because of the illness of his father, he went to work at age 15 as a bookkeeper at a salami factory. But he also spent his youth as an amateur actor.
He made his first movie performance in 1950 in "I Caddetti of Guascogna" (The Cadets of Guascogona). He followed that with a series of films in the 1950s that made him a popular character actor.
In the 1960s, he matured as an actor with a series of creative roles in satirical films such as Luciano Salce's "Il Federale" (The Fascist), which is still considered one of Mr. Tognazzi's greatest films.
After his success in "Il Federale" and Dino Risi's "La Marcia Su Roma" (The March on Rome), he met Marco Ferreri, the director who gave him some of his greatest roles.
Together with Ferreri, Mr. Tognazzi made such films as "Una Storia Moderna: l'Ape Regina" (The Conjugal Bed) in 1963, "La Donna Scimmia" (The Ape Woman) in 1964, "Marcia Nuziale" (Wedding March) in 1966, "L'Udienza" (The Audience) in 1971 and "La Grande Bouffe" in 1973.
He starred in "La Cage Aux Folles" and appeared in Roger Vadim's film "Barbarella," which starred Jane Fonda, Vadim's wife at the time.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Mr. Tognazzi also tackled more serious dramatic roles. In 1981, he won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or award as best actor for his role in Bernardo Bertolucci's "La Tragedia di un Uomo Ridicolo" (The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man).
Survivors include his wife, Franca Bettoia, and four children.