Very little is known about Franco Merli, who appeared in several Italian films throughout the 1970s. He was born on 31 October 1956 in Rome, Italy. In 1973, famous Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini discovered Merli. The 16-year-old was working as a petrol station attendant at that time (as Ninetto Davoli, a friend of Pasolini and actor in most of his films, recounts ). Pasolini was searching for a young man to play the lead in his upcoming feature Arabian Nights (Il fiore delle mille e una notte). The director immediately knew that Franco Merli, with his small but muscular physique, dark Mediterranean looks, and ready smile, was the perfect choice for the role of Nur Ed Din. Or, as he once said: "(. . . ) a boy from Corleone (in Sicily) who has the innocence of his sixteen years in the physique of an eighteen-year-old. "
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