Terence Hill (born Mario Girotti; 29 March 1939) is an Italian actor, film director, screenwriter and film producer.
Hill started his career as a child actor and went on to multiple starring roles in action and comedy films, many with longtime film partner and friend Bud Spencer. During the height of his popularity Hill was among Italy's highest-paid actors. Hill's most widely seen films include comic and standard Westerns all´Italiana ("Italian style Westerns", colloquially, "spaghetti westerns"), some based on popular novels by German author Karl May about the American West.
Of these, the most famous are Lo chiamavano Trinità (They Call Me Trinity, 1971) and Il mio nome è Nessuno (My Name Is Nobody, 1973), co-starring Henry Fonda. His film Django, Prepare a Coffin, shot in 1968 by director Ferdinando Baldi, and co-starring Horst Frank and George Eastman, was featured at the 64th Venice Film Festival in 2007.
Hill, whose stage name was the product of a publicity stunt by film producers, also went on to a successful television career in Italy, including the long-running lead and title role of Don Matteo (2000-), about an inspirational parish priest who assists the Carabinieri in solving crimes local to his community, a role for which Hill received an international "Outstanding Actor of the Year" award at the Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo 42e (42nd Monte Carlo Television Festival).
Hill was born on 29 March 1939 in Venice, Italy. Hill's mother, Hildegard Girotti (née Thieme), was a German, from Dresden; his father, Girolamo Girotti, was Italian, and a chemist by occupation.
During his childhood, Hill lived in the small town of Lommatzsch, Germany, He was there through the end of World War II (1943–1945) and survived the Dresden Bombing.
He was discovered by Italian filmmaker Dino Risi at a swimming meet at the age of 12, and became a child actor, appearing in Vacanze col Gangster (Holiday with the Gangster, 1951). His early roles also included Gli sbandati (The Abandoned, 1955).
At one time among Italy's highest-paid actors, Hill's most widely seen films include comic and standard Westerns all´ Italiana ("Italian style Westerns," also known as "Spaghetti Westerns"), some based on popular novels by German author Karl May about the American West.
After 27 movies in Italy, Hill secured a major film role in Luchino Visconti's The Leopard (Il Gattopardo, 1963).
In 1964, he returned to Germany and there appeared in a series of Heimatfilme, adventure and western films, based on novels by German author Karl May.
In 1967, he returned to Italy to act in God Forgives... I Don't!. His film Django, Prepare a Coffin was shot in 1968, by director Ferdinando Baldi; it co-starred Horst Frank and George Eastman (and would be featured, much later, at the 64th Venice Film Festival, in 2007).
Also in 1968, Hill changed his name from Mario Girotti to Terence Hill, a name made up by the film producers; he had to choose from a list of twenty names and picked the one with his mother's initials. There is a persistent rumour that he took his last name, "Hill", from his wife's maiden name, but this is incorrect for it was Zwicklbauer.
In the following years, he starred in many action and Spaghetti Westerns, together with longtime colleague and friend Bud Spencer. The pair made a large number of Italian Westerns and other films together, and were notable for their comedy films, successful not only in Italy, but also abroad. Many of these have alternate titles, depending upon the country and distributor. Possibly their most famous film is the 1971 western They Call Me Trinity and the 1972 sequel Trinity Is Still My Name. Hill has stated in interviews that My Name Is Nobody (1973), in which he co-starred with Henry Fonda, is his personal favorite of all his films.
His first American films were Mr. Billion and March or Die (both 1977), after which he divided his time between Italy and the US.
Hill later went on to a television career in Italy; in 2000, he landed the leading role in the Italian television series Don Matteo, about a parish priest who assists the Carabinieri in solving crimes in his local community. This role earned Hill an international "Outstanding Actor of the Year" award at the 42nd Monte Carlo Television Festival, alongside ones for the series, and for producer Alessandro Jacchia at that festival.
In the summer of 2010, Hill filmed another Italian television series for the Italian state television channel Rai Uno, this time entitled Un passo dal cielo (One Step from Heaven), playing a local chief of the foresters in the region of Alto Adige, with a second season filmed in 2012.
Hill is married to Lori Hill née Zwicklbauer. He has two sons, Jess (born 1969) and Ross (1973-1990). Ross was killed in a car accident in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in winter of 1990, while Terence was preparing to film Lucky Luke (1991) on the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
He has directed several films as well as several television productions.