Bruno Minniti was born Luigi Mezzanotte on December 5th, 1954 in Rome. In his official biography he claims to have been involved with cinema from a young age, even appearing in ‘an important film’ as a child, although there are no credits for him until he was 23 years old. In time he began his career as an actor by appearing in soap operas and fotoromanzi such as Grand Hotel and Bolero. He was most associated with Lancio, where he took on roles that were intended for Franco Gasparri (possibly the biggest star of Italian fotoromanzi who died in 1999) and became famous in his own right.
At the same time, he started acting in low budget films, beginning with the Italo-Chinese co-production Roman Encounter (Yi xiang meng, 77). He then had supporting roles in Romolo Guerrieri’s weird comedy L’importante è non farsi notare (79), Roberto Mauri’s sleazy Porno Killers (80) and a handful of sexy comedies for directors Michele Massimo Tarantini and Mariano Laurenti.
In 1983, though, he suddenly adopted both a new pseudonym, Conrad Nichols, and a new persona as a musclebound action hero in films inspired by the success of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. He began by a trilogy of films for Tonino Ricci in 1983 and 84: Thor the Conqueror (a Conan rip-off that was even marketed as The Beastmaster 2 in some territories), Rush and Rage (which were both late, not particularly inspiring entries in the short lived post-apocalypse genre inspired by Mad Max). He was back with Ricci in Days of Hell (86), a war film that tried to mop up some of the audiences who had enjoyed Rambo, before working on a mediocre Indiana Jones clone, The Secret of the Incas Empire, directed by Gianfranco Parolini in 1988. His roles dried up as the Italian film industry went into decline in the 1990s, but he did appear in a couple more comedies before shooting his last film, Buck and the Magic Bracelet in 1999, again for Tonino Ricci.
None of his films were particularly succesful, mostly being video store shelf filler of moderate quality. And he was hardly the most charismatic of performers, although it could be argued that he wasn’t much worse than Stallone or Schwarzenegger, his Hollywood equivalents. Most of his films were undermined by their low budgets and variable production values (not to mention their low aspirations), but over time they’ve come to gain a certain cult appeal. And whatever his merits as an actor, Minniti seems to have worked with people regularly, indicating that he was a good character on set.
Minniti, meanwhile, went on to become something of a regular on TV, appearing on shows like Jeans, Pronto è la Rai, Uno Mattina and Mi Manda Lubrano. He has also released a number of singles and tours Italy as a popular singer.
Some high class Conrad Nichols action: