Pippo Baudo is one of the best known figures on Italian television.
The Early Years
Baudo was always interested in show business and as a boy tried his hand in theater. Pippo gained a small amount of fame as a piano player and singer while he was in full-time education and in the late 1950s he was hired as a pianist and singer in the Moonlight Orchestra.
Baudo made his television debut in 1959 with the Moonlight Orchestra during La Conchiglia d’Oro, a variety program hosted by Enzo Tortora. In the early 1960s he became a TV host presenting Guida degli Emigranti, Primo Piano, the children’s show Telecruciverba, and various music shows like the Festival of Naples in 1963/65/66, and Cantaitalia in 1964.
The turning point in Baudo’s career came on February 6, 1966. The scheduled episode of American TV series Rin Tin Tin arrived late to the broadcasting studio and RAI decided to transmit the pilot episode of Settevoci. Baudo’s show filmed in Milan (later in Rome), was originally deemed to be “inadequate” by RAI yet once it aired they were proven wrong. Additional episodes of the show were hastily produced and aired. It was the beginning of Baudo’s career. Settevoci was a success and Pippo Baudo never looked back.
In 1967 Baudo hosted Eccetera with comedian Gino Bramieri and showgirl Marisa Del Frate. In 1968 he hosted the fabled Sanremo Festival for the first time. Sanremo is the most important Italian music festival and hosting the festival is akin to hosting the Academy Awards. Baudo has hosted Sanremo so many times that his name and the festival have become synonymous with one another. Pippo Baudo hosted Un Disco per l’Estate 1968, a summer music show that he presented the following year.
The Golden Years
Thanks to the great success that Baudo achieved with RAI he inherited two of the most important programs of his career: Canzonissima, and Domenica In. Baudo went on to present top rated Italian TV shows Senza Rete, Fantastico, Secondo Voi, Papaveri e Papere, and Mille Lire Al Mese.
When private television stations entered the Italian TV market, Baudo began alternating between RAI and Antenna Sicilia. Baudo planned the schedule and presented shows like I Siculissimi with Tuccio Musumeci. Baudo ended his relationship with RAI in a dramatic fashion in 1987 when he moved to Mediaset to present the variety show Festival on Canale 5. The departure was a reaction to a dispute with the then President of RAI, Enrico Manca, who defined Baudo as a popular national product. Before long Baudo’s strong character conflicted with the “yes man” attitude required to work at Mediaset. For these reasons Pippo Baudo decided to return to RAI to host Serata d’Onore on Rai 2.
Baudo in the 90s
In 1997 Baudo worked with famed composers and playwrights Garinei and Giovannini in the musical The Man Who Invented the Television. The play starred Baudo, Gigliola Cinquetti, Peppe Quintale, and Lello Arena. In the same year Baudo again tried to work for private channels hosting a series of ill received experimental shows like the monthly Una Volta al Mese, La Canzone del Secolo and Tiramisù. After six months Baudo left Canale 5.
At this point Pippo Baudo’s career seemed over but RAI 3 offered him the role as the presenter of Giorno dopo Giorno, an afternoon program that told the story of the 20th century. The show went on to become a success and was moved to a prime time slot and given a new title: Novecento (“Nine Hundred”).
On December 18, 2009, Baudo was invited on I Migliori Anni, a show curated and hosted by Carlo Conti, to celebrate his 50 years of career.
Having won back the hearts of the viewing public Pippo Baudo was called to host the San Remo Festival in 2002. At Baudo’s side were famous beauties Manuela Arcuri and Vittoria Belvedere and the ratings for the 2002 Festival were so good that Baudo returned as host in 2003 (this time with Claudia Gerini and Serena Autieri).
In 2004 Baudo argued with RAI management and left the company. In spring 2005 Pippo made peace with CEO Del Noce live on RAI 1 and came back on the air with the show Sabato Italiano, which failed to win ratings. In 2005 Baudo went back to hosting the popular Sunday afternoon variety show Domenica In, the eighth time he’s taken up the mantle. Baudo also presented an early evening show Ieri, Oggi e Domani, that lasted four years.
In 2007 he hosted the Festival, paired with Michelle Hunziker. With the 2007 festival under Baudo’s belt he became the person who has hosted the most Sanremos ever (Mike Bongiorno presented 11 times). Baudo hosted again in 2008, to less success, and in the fall he began hosting the show Serata d’Onore on Rai 1.
In recent years Pippo Baudo’s activity on tv has decreased, but you can still see him in some tv shows, and he still is one of the most loved characters of the Italian television.