He studied law before going into acting in a theatre company also featuring Vittorio Gassman and Tino Buazzelli, especially in dramatic roles. In 1949 he played for the Piccolo Teatro di Milano under Giorgio Strehler, in tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet and The Storm. In 1952, he collaborated with Eduardo De Filippo, along with Paolo Panelli and Bice Valori. He made his film debut in 1957, and later branched out into directing. He even composed songs for the soundtrack of one of his movies. He continued appearing in movies and on television into old age. Alongside his enormous success in the theatre, he also began working in the cinema. After an uninspired start, it was with Gianni Puccini's L'Impiegato (1959) that he really began to make a name for himself. In 1963, a special edition of Rugantino marked the first in a string of film successes, which continued with La Ballata del Boia (Not On Your Life) (1963) directed by L. G. Berlanga, Questa Volta Parliamo di Uomini (Let's Talk About Men) (1964) by Lina Wertmüller, Made in Italy (1965) by Nanni Loy, Operazione San Gennaro (Treasure of San Gennaro)(1966) by Dino Risi, Il Padre di Famiglia (Head of the Family) (1967) by Nanni Loy, Straziami Ma di Baci Saziami (Kill Me With Kisses) (1968) by Dino Risi, Vedo Nudo (1969) by Dino Risi, and Nell'Anno del Signore (The Conspirators) (1969) directed by Luigi Magni. In the meantime, he made his debut as director with L'Avventura di un Soldato, an episode in L'Amore Difficile (Sex Can Be Difficult) (1962), based on the eponymous short story by Italo Calvino, then Per Grazia Ricevuta (Between Miracles) (1971) and Nudo di Donna (Portrait of a Nude Woman) (1981). His career as an actor brought him further acclaim in Girolimoni (1972) directed by Damiano Damiani, in the television version of Le Avventure di Pinocchio (The Adventures of Pinocchio) (1972) by Luigi Comencini, in Brutti, Sporchi e Cattivi (Ugly, Dirty and Bad) (1976) by Ettore Scola, in La Mazzetta (1978) by Sergio Corbucci, in Il Giocattolo (1979) by Giuliano Montaldo and in Spaghetti House (1982) directed by Giulio Paradisi. He returned to the theatre as the writer, director and actor in Viva gli Sposi! (1984) and Gente di Facili Costumi (1988). For television, he played the lead role in the series Un Commissario a Roma (1993) and in the popular Linda e il Brigadiere (1997).