Show Business: Lion of the Via Veneto

The unofficial mayor of Rome's Via Veneto is Lionel Stander, a growling, grimacing, profane old lion with the plumage of a peacock and the unabashed appetites of a goat. As he fanfaronades along, groups of young Roman cognoscenti crowd round him and cry "Ciao, Lionello!" As he gleefully claims, "Some of the best-looking broads in Rome call me and ask 'Can I come sleep with you, baby?' "

At any glance, the burly, 62-year-old character actor seems an unlikely object of continental adulation or incontinent adoration. He is Bronx-born and irredeemably ugly; his voice...

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