Franca Rame was born in Parabiago, Lombardy, in 1929, into a family with a long theatre tradition. She made her theatrical debut in 1951. Shortly thereafter, she met Dario Fo, whom she married in 1954. Their son, Jacopo was born on 31 March 1955. In 1958, she co-founded the Dario Fo–Franca Rame Theatre Company in Milan, with Fo as the director and writer, and Rame the leading actress and administrator.
Rame continued working with Fo through many plays and several theatre companies, popular success and government censorship. She was active in Soccorso Rosso (Red Aid), writing letters and providing books for prisoners and assisting their families and lawyers. In the 1970s, Rame began writing plays (often stage monologues) of her own, such as Grasso è bello! and Tutta casa, letto e chiesa, which displayed a markedly feminist bent.
In March 1973, fascists who were reportedly commissioned by high-ranking officials in Milan’s Carabinieri (Italian federal police) abducted Rame, held her at gunpoint and dumped her in a van. They raped her, beat her, burnt her with cigarettes, slashed her with razor blades and left her in a park. She returned to the stage after two months with new anti-fascist monologues.
Rame became a member of the PCI in 1967. She was a member of the Italian Senate representing the centre-left anti-political corruption Italy of Values (IDV – Italia dei Valori) party, abandoned in 2008 due to political choices of the government supported by the IDV party. From 2010 she was, also with her husband, an independent member of the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC – Partito della Rifondazione Comunista).
She died in 2013 at the age of 83.