Jerry Ross, aka Gerardo Rossi, was another Italian actor who was more famous for his career in fotoromanzi than cinema. He appeared in just six films between 1967 and 1973, all of which had limited budgets and equally limited success, but his fotoromanzi career – which started in the same year – was still going strong in 2006, making him one of the longest lasting stars of the medium.
His film debut came in the 1967 film Colt in the Hand of the Devil, directed by Sergio Bergonzelli. This not-too-bad spaghetti western starred Bob Henry as a hired gun paid to track down and eliminate a gang of Mexican bandits led by George Wang. Despite being his debut, Ross had reasonably prominent billing and a not insubstantial role. Rather than capitalize on it, though, Ross moved into the more lucrative fotoromanzi field, appearing regularly in publications like Lancio, and it would be four years before he appeared in another film. Black Killer, directed by Carlo Croccolo in 1971, was a low budget production notable mainly for the appearance of Klaus Kinski as a gun fighting lawyer, complete with hidden weapons in the law books he carries round with him. The rest of the plot was the usual nonsense, with Fred Robsham playing a Sheriff battling with a quintet of bandito brothers, and Ross had a supporting role as Robsham’s brother.
1972 bought another low budget spaghetti western, Demofilo Fidani’s Giu le mani… carogni, and this was such a cheapjack production that it was actually knitted together from footage used in previous Fidani films. Ross features in the framing device, as Wild Bill Hickok, listening to Django (Hunt Powers) recount his previous adventures (the recycled sequences). Unsurprisingly, this one didn’t break any box office records, although it undoubtedly made a profit and probably did well in distribution to the developing world.
In the same year, Fidani and Ross also made another film, the even more deranged Jungle Master. A late entry in the ‘Jungle Girl’ sequence of films – think Tarzan with scantily clad ladies – this featured Johhny Kissmuller (!?!) as blonde pseudo-Tarzan ‘Karzan’, tracked down by a gang of adventurers including Roger Browne, Attilio Severini (as an eccentric guide called ‘Crazy’) and Ross. This is trash of the highest order, utterly rubbish but amazingly entertaining. Again, Ross has a notable if not starring performance.
After another bonkers Fidani production, the obscure giallo A.A.A. massaggiatrice bella presenza offresi, for which he used a different pseudonym Jerry Colman, Ross was reunited with Sergio Bergonzelli for Loves of a Nymphomaniac. This was a particularly sleazy entry in the nunsploitation genre which even includes a sequence in which a nun dreams of having sex with a psychedelically painted Jesus. This time out Ross was the second credited male actor after Vassili Karis.
His last film saw him team up once again with Demofilo Fidani for a lackluster poliziotteschi,The Godfather’s Advisor (73). As with Giu le mani… carogna, this made considerable use of footage from previous films, namely the 1969 release Mafia Killer (which was pretty rubbish first time round). The plot attempts to emulate Coppola’s The Godfather, but is mainly composed of Jeff Cameron walking around in a daze. Ross has a small role.
Perhaps dissuaded by the lack of opportunities, perhaps because his career had never really taken off, Ross turned his back on cinema and concentrated fully on fotoromanzi, appearing in over thirty issues of Lancio – both as protagonist and antagonist – as well as in numerous other releases from publishers such as Rizzoli. If anybody knows anything more about Sr. Ross / Rossi, please do get in touch!