I’ve noticed the name Peter Dane crop up in a couple of Italian films that I’ve watched now, so it seems like a good opportunity to revive my ‘Americans in Cinecitta’ posts.
So, who was Peter Dane? Well, detailed biographical information – beyond the basics – is sketchy. Born Edward Voigt on June 2nd 1918, in Fresno County, California, he started appearing in American TV series during the 1950s, with guest roles in the likes of Tales of the Texas Rangers, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Target. In 1960, though, he appeared in his first Italian film, Giorgio Bianchi’s police procedural Chiamate 22-22 tenente Sheridan. In line with much of his work, he had a supporting role, and it doesn’t seem particularly likely that he was bought in to give it extra distribution potential, in which case he would have featured more prominently. Did he just happen to have been in Rome for other reasons and decided to do a bot of acting on the side? Who knows. Whatever the case, other films followed in rapid succession: he played another urbane villain in Riccardo Freda’s bizarre Caccia all’uomo (61), a film inspired by the heroic antics of a real life police dog in Sardinia; appeared in Enzo Battaglia’s obscure La vita provvisoria (62); had a small role in Romano Ferrara’s early sci fi film I pianeti contro di noi (62); and played a spy in Giorgio Simonelli’s comedy espionage film I tre nemici (62). None of these were big budget, and in most cases he played American characters living in Rome.
Although his output declined in the second half of the decade, he still made several other films. He had a cameo (as another American official) in Toto and Peppino Divided in Berlin (64), teamed up again with Romano Ferrara in Crimine a due (64) and appeared in a couple of decent spy films, Mario Sequi’s Cobra (67) and Emilio Miraglia’s Assassination (67). In 1968 he had small roles in a couple of big budget international productions – Christian Marquand’s Candy and Francesco’s Maselli’s caper A Fine Pair, starring Rock Hudson. He also appeared in a couple of arthouse favourites, the Fellini / Malle / Vadim collaboration Spirits of the Dead (68) and Visconti’s The Damned (69). Spaghetti Western fans might recognise him from the Tony Kendall film Hate is my God (69) and his last Italian appearance was as a TV host in Sergio Sollima’s Violent City (70). In all, between 1960 and 1970 he appeared in about 15 Italian films (or Italian co-productions) and, although he never had anything approaching a lead role, he was a reliable supporting performer.
In the early 1970s, he seems to have relocated to the States, like many of the other American’s who working in Italian cinema at around the same time. He continued working in low budget cinema, including the likes of Cycle Psycho (73), Sixpack Annie (75) and Black Samurai (77). He died on July 15th, 1985, aged 67.
There’s also another curiosity about his career: of the 15 films he made in Italy, five of them were opposite Umberto Orsini. Was there some kind of connection between the two actors?