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Romans honor comedy hero

Swedish-born movie star Ingrid Bergman dances with Italian actor Alberto Sordi in Rome in 1956.
Swedish-born movie star Ingrid Bergman dances with Italian actor Alberto Sordi in Rome in 1956.

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ROME, Italy (Reuters) -- Italians in their tens of thousands lined up through the night to pay homage to comedy film legend Alberto Sordi, who died on Tuesday.

An estimated 60,000 fans, old, young, famous and ordinary, queued for hours in the Michelangelo-designed square outside Rome city hall to file past Sordi's open coffin.

Huge crowds formed again on Wednesday morning and city officials said the room where the actor's coffin is laid would remain open for a second night if there were still people wanting to pay their respects.

"I cannot bear to see him dead, it's as if my grandfather had died," said 19-year old Pamela.

At 4:0 a.m. (0300 GMT) officials tried to close the room where his body was laid out, but they were forced to open it again after just 15 minutes because of the size of the crowd still waiting outside in near freezing temperatures.

A temporary screen was also set up on the piazza playing Sordi classics to entertain the mourners.

Sordi, 82, starred in some 150 films in a 60-year career, shared the set with all the greats and often topped Marcello Mastroianni for star billing. He was especially popular in his home town of Rome.

His funeral will take place on Thursday at Rome's cathedral and Italian media reported that half a million people were expected to attend.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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