Italian actress Franca Rame dies

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FILE - In this May 9, 2009 file photo Italian Nobel prize winner Dario Fo, right, and his wife Franca Rame applaud during the Italian State RAI TV program "Che Tempo che Fa", in Milan. Franca Rame has died in Milan, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. She was 84. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)

MILAN (AP) — Franca Rame, an Italian actress and wife of Nobel laureate Dario Fo, died Wednesday at the age of 84 after a long illness.

Rame's death was marked with a moment of silence in Parliament, where she served as a senator from 2006 to 2008, and President Giorgio Napolitano praised her "passionate civic engagement."

Born into a theatrical family, Rame was a stage and film actress who married the actor and playwright Fo in 1954 in Milan's St. Ambrose Cathedral.

The couple founded theater companies that thrived on political satire, winning acclaim from progressive audiences and critics, but also upsetting the powerful.

In the 1970s she began writing plays herself, including "The Rape," about her experience being brutalized in 1973 by far-right extremists.

In 1980, Rame and Fo were refused entry visas to the United States because of their support for left-wing activities in Italy. Then, in 1984, the U.S. government relented and allowed the couple to visit and see the New York production of "Accidental Death of an Anarchist."

The play, Fo's most internationally known, is a work of fiction based on real-life events involving the suspicious death of an anarchist who fell from the window of the Milan police station.

Fo dedicated his 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature to Rame.

She is survived by Fo and a son.