Obituary: Ruggero Orlando

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The Independent Online
RUGGERO ORLANDO was not only a brilliant Italian journalist and broadcaster, he was also a delightful companion with a quirky sense of humour, writes Leonard Miall (further to the obituary by Anne Symonds, 4 May). In July 1969 we travelled together from New York to Cape Kennedy in Florida to witness the three American astronauts, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, set off in Apollo 11 on their historic journey to the moon.

You could reach Cape Kennedy, as Cape Canaveral was then called, by flying to one of two Florida airports, both about 50 miles away: Melbourne and Orlando. At our hotel a clerk was checking our return flights. 'Your name please?' she said to Ruggero. 'Orlando,' he replied. 'Yes, I know about the airport, but I must have your surname to cross off my list.' 'Orlando,' he repeated, with emphasis. When she began a third time Ruggero shrugged his shoulders and said, 'OK, I'll go by Melbourne.'

Ruggero Orlando always ended his television reports with the word 'Ciao' and a cheery wave of his arm from left to right in front of his face. The gesture became his trademark. Once, after his return from New York to Rome in 1972, he had to go into hospital with a serious illness. A small Roman girl asked her father why she had not seen Signor Orlando on television recently. She was told that he could not appear because he was on his sickbed. The little girl was shocked. 'But who is going to clean the inside of our television screen?' she asked.