Terence Hill celebrates his 85th birthday on March 29th. The Italian actor and director is known for his bright blue eyes and the films he made with Bud Spencer (1929-2016). The former sonny boy, who was born Mario Girotti in Venice, has also experienced severe blows of fate in his life. He also turned down a cult role in Hollywood. These facts about Terence Hill are less known than his films…

Anyone who thinks that Bud Spencer and Terence Hill – who starred in German Karl May films in the 1960s – were discovered together is wrong. The two actors even appeared in the 1959 Italian sandals film “Hannibal” without ever meeting on set. Even in their first actual collaboration in “God Forgives – Django Never!” In 1967 it was chance that helped. Bud Spencer is said to have initially rejected the role because the salary was too low for him. Besides, he couldn’t ride. Terence Hill only came into play as a replacement after the original Peter Martell (1938-2010) was injured… During filming, it quickly became apparent how well the two actors complement each other.

However, the film “The Devil’s Right and Left Hands” (1970), which was a great success for the duo, was apparently not planned that way. The lead role was reportedly offered to Franco Nero (82), who turned it down due to other commitments. It was therefore decided to find a replacement who would be as similar to Nero as possible and the choice fell on Terence Hill. With “Four Fists for a Hallelujah” at the latest, Hill and Spencer became legends together in 1971.

Until 1967, Bud Spencer and Terence Hill performed under their real names. For their first collaboration, both were asked to choose a stage name with an American twist to facilitate international marketing. Carlo Pedersoli chose Bud Spencer, a combination of the short form for Budweiser beer and the first name of the great actor Spencer Tracy (1900-1967). Girotti, on the other hand, chose Terence Hill from an existing list of pseudonyms. The initials of his stage name are those of his mother, Hildegard Thieme.

Terence Hill made almost 20 films together with Bud Spencer. Hill, who was discovered for acting at the age of twelve, almost made a career out of another role. Apparently he was offered the role of Rambo in the early 1980s, before Sylvester Stallone (77) was asked. Terence Hill rejected this because he saw it as “too violent”, as he once said on an Italian talk show.

As a child, Terence Hill moved with his family to Lommatzsch near Dresden in 1943, where his mother came from and his grandparents lived. At that time he experienced the heavy air raids on Dresden. After the war we went back to Italy. Terence Hill, who speaks fluent German, later moved to West Germany, where he filmed a lot in the 1960s before he married Lori Zwicklbauer, an American of German descent, back in Italy in 1967. Their son Jess Hill was born in 1969, and in 1973 the couple adopted a second son named Ross Hill in Munich. Hill also showed his close connection to his mother’s homeland by accepting German citizenship in 2022, as “Bild” reported. In addition to the Italian passport, the actor also has a US passport…

Hill went to the United States with his family in the 1970s as a successful actor. There, the star of “My Name is Nobody” (1973) also appeared in several Hollywood productions, such as “Marschier oder die” (1977) with stars like Gene Hackman (94) and Catherine Deneuve (80).

Terence Hill also experienced a phase of deep sadness in the USA. His adopted son Ross Hill, with whom he worked on “Nobody Like Don Camillo” and “Renegade” (1987), died in a car accident at the age of just 16. The car left the road on a slippery road and crashed into a tree. During this difficult phase of his life, Terence Hill threw himself into work, including the film “Lucky Luke” (1991), which he also directed.

Terence Hill appeared in front of the camera for the last time with Bud Spencer in the 1994 film “The Troublemakers.” There were also changes for Terence Hill in his personal life. After living with his wife in the United States for more than 30 years, he later settled permanently in the Italian region of Umbria and enjoyed great success on Italian television for many years with the series “Don Matteo”. In 2021 he announced his departure after over 250 episodes. He explained that he wanted to have more time for his family.