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Alida Valli

Alida Valli

Italian actress
Alida Valli
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Italian actress
A.K.A. Alida Maria Laura Altenburger von Marckenstein-Frauenberg
Was Actor Singer
From Italy
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music
Gender female
Birth 31 May 1921, Pula, Istria County, Croatia
Death 22 April 2006, Rome, Province of Rome, Lazio, Italy (aged 84 years)
Star sign Gemini
Residence Kingdom of Italy
Family
Spouse: Giancarlo ZagniOscar De Mejo
Children: Carlo De Mejo
Alida Valli
The details

Biography

Baroness Alida Maria Laura Altenburger von Marckenstein-Frauenberg (31 May 1921 – 22 April 2006), better known by her stage name Alida Valli (or simply Valli), was an Italian actress who appeared in more than 100 films, including Mario Soldati's Piccolo mondo antico, Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case, Carol Reed's The Third Man, Michelangelo Antonioni's Il Grido, Luchino Visconti's Senso, Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 and Dario Argento's Suspiria.

Biography

Early life

Valli was born in Pola, Istria, Italy (today Pula, Croatia; until 1918 it had formed part of Austria-Hungary). Her paternal grandfather was the Baron Luigi Altenburger (also: Altempurger), an Austrian-Italian from Trento, a descendant of the Counts d'Arco; her paternal grandmother was Elisa Tomasi from Trento, a cousin of the Roman senator Ettore Tolomei. Valli's mother, Silvia Oberecker della Martina, born in Pola, was the daughter of Felix Oberecker (also: Obrekar) from Laibach, Austria (now Ljubljana, Slovenia); her mother was Virginia della Martina from Pola, Istria (then part of Austria). Valli's maternal granduncle, Rodolfo, was a close friend of Gabriele D'Annunzio. Valli was christened Baroness Alida Maria Laura Altenburger von Marckenstein-Frauenberg. During her lifetime she also gained the titles Dr.h.c. of the III. University of Rome, Chevalier of Arts of France and Cavaliere of the Italian Republic.

Career

Alida Valli with Farley Granger, scene from the film Senso, 1954

At fifteen, she went to Rome, where she attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, a school for film actors and directors. At that time, she lived with her uncle Ettore Tolomei. Valli started her movie career in 1934, in Il cappello a tre punte (The Three Cornered Hat) during the so-called Telefoni Bianchi cinema era. Her first big success came with the movie Mille lire al mese (1939). After many roles in a large number of comedies, she earned her success as dramatic actress in Piccolo mondo antico (1941), directed by Mario Soldati, for which she won a special Best Actress award at Venice Film Festival. During the Second World War, she starred in many movies including Stasera niente di nuovo (1942) (whose song "Ma l'amore no" became the leitmotif of the Italian forties) and the diptych Noi Vivi / Addio Kira! (1943) (based on Ayn Rand's novel We the Living). These latter two movies were nearly censored by the Italian government under Benito Mussolini, but they were finally permitted because the novel upon which they were based was anti-Soviet. The films were successful, and the public easily realized that they were as much against Fascism as Communism. After several weeks, however, the films were pulled from theaters as the German and Italian governments, which abhorred communism, found out the story also carried an anti-fascist message.

By her early 20s already widely regarded as the "most beautiful woman in the World," Valli had a career in English-language films through David Selznick, who signed her to a contract, thinking that he had found a second Ingrid Bergman. In Hollywood, she performed in several movies: she was the murder suspect Maddalena Paradine in Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947), and the mysterious Czech refugee wanted by the Soviets in post-war Vienna in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949). But her foreign experience was not a great success, owing to the financial problems of Selznick's production company.

She returned to Europe in the early 1950s, and starred in many French and Italian films. In 1954, she had great success in the melodrama Senso, directed by Luchino Visconti. In that film, set in mid-19th century Venice during the Risorgimento, she played a Venetian countess torn between nationalistic feelings and an adulterous love for an officer (played by Farley Granger) of the occupying Austrian forces.

In 1956, Valli decided to stop making movies, concentrating instead on the stage. She was in charge of a company that produced Broadway plays in Italy.

In 1959, she appeared in Georges Franju's horror masterpiece Les Yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face). From the 1960s, she worked in several pictures with famous directors, such as Pier Paolo Pasolini's Edipo re (Oedipus Rex), 1967; Bernardo Bertolucci's La strategia del ragno, 1972; Novecento, 1976, and Dario Argento's Suspiria, 1977. Her final movie role was in Semana Santa (2002), with Mira Sorvino. In Italy, she was also well known for her stage appearances in such plays as Ibsen's Rosmersholm; Pirandello's Henry IV; John Osborne's Epitaph for George Dillon; and Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. At the 54th Venice International Film Festival in 1997 Alida Valli obtained the Golden Lion award for her career.

Name used in billing

When Valli came to the United States, she was billed by only her last name "to make her sound even more exotic." In 1951, she complained that she disliked the single-name reference. "I feel silly going around with only one name," she said. "People get me mixed up with Rudy Vallée."

Personal life

Her teenage love, Carlo Cugnasca, was a famous Italian aerobatic pilot. He served as a fighter pilot with the Regia Aeronautica and was killed during a mission over British-held Tobruk on 14 April 1941.

Valli's movie career suffered in 1953 from a scandal surrounding the death of Wilma Montesi, whose body was found on a public beach near Ostia; prolonged investigations resulted, involving allegations of drug and sex orgies in Roman society. Among the accused – all of whom were acquitted, leaving the case unsolved – was Valli's lover, jazz musician Piero Piccioni (son of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs).

Valli married Oscar de Mejo in 1943 and filed for divorce from him in 1949, but they reconciled. She had two sons with him.

Death

Valli's death at her home on 22 April 2006 was announced by the office of the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, whose statement read, "The Italian cinema has lost one of its most intense and striking faces". Another official statement by the Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi read, "La scomparsa di Alida Valli è una grave perdita per il cinema, il teatro e la cultura italiana" ("The death of Alida Valli is a great loss for the cinema, the theatre and Italian culture").

The critic David Shipman wrote in his book The Great Movie Stars: The International Years, that on the basis of her best known films before 1950, she might seem to be "one of Hollywood's least successful continental imports", but a viewer of "any two or three of the films she has made since then ... will probably regard her as one of the half-dozen best actresses in the world". The French critic Frédéric Mitterrand wrote: "[C]ette actrice fut la seule en Europe à égaler Marlène Dietrich ou Garbo" (This was the only actress in Europe to equal Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo).

Filmography

  • The Three-Cornered Hat (1935) (uncredited)
  • The Two Sergeants (1936) as Una commessa dell'emporio 'Au Bon Marché' (as Alida Altenburger)
  • It Was I! (1937) as Lauretta
  • The Ferocious Saladin (1937) as Dora Florida / La bella Sulamita
  • L'ha fatto una signora (1938) as Maria Sardo
  • Love Everlasting (1938) as Maria D'Alba
  • La casa del peccato (1938) as La ragazza
  • Mille lire al mese (1939) as Magda
  • Unjustified Absence (1939) as Vera Fabbri
  • Ballo al castello (1939) as Greta Larsen
  • Manon Lescaut (1940) as Manon Lescaut
  • Red Tavern (1940) as Susanna Sormani
  • The Last Enemy (1940) as A friend of Anna
  • Oltre l'amore (1940) as Vanina Vanini
  • The First Woman Who Passes (1940) as Gabrielle de Vervins
  • Piccolo mondo antico (1941) as Luisa Rigey Maironi
  • Luce nelle tenebre (1941) as Marina Ferri
  • Schoolgirl Diary (1941) as Anna Campolmi
  • The Secret Lover (1941) as Renata Croci
  • We the Living (1942) as Kira Argounova
  • Catene invisibili (1942) as Elena Silvagni
  • The Two Orphans (1942) as Enrichetta
  • Addio Kira (1942) as Kira Argounova
  • Stasera niente di nuovo (1942) as Maria
  • I pagliacci (1943) as Giulia
  • T'amerò sempre (1943) as Adriana
  • Apparizione (1943) as Andreina
  • The Za-Bum Circus (1944) (segments "Gelosia", "Il postino" and "Galop finale al circo")
  • Il canto della vita (1945) as Patrizia Martini
  • Life Begins Anew (1945) as Giovanna
  • Eugenia Grandet (1946) as Eugenia Grandet
  • The Paradine Case (1947) as Maddalena Anna Paradine
  • The Miracle of the Bells (1948) as Olga
  • The Third Man (1949) as Anna Schmidt
  • The White Tower (1950) as Carla Alton
  • Walk Softly, Stranger (1950) as Elaine Corelli
  • Les Miracles n'ont lieu qu'une fois (1951) as Claudia
  • Last Meeting (1951) as Lina Castelli
  • Lovers of Toledo (1953) as Doña Inés de Arévalo Blas
  • The World Condemns Them (1953) as Renata Giustini
  • We, the Women (Segment: "Alida Valli", 1953) as Alida (segment "Alida Valli")
  • The Stranger's Hand (1954) as Roberta Gleukovitch
  • Senso (1954) as La contessa Livia Serpieri
  • Il Grido (1957) as Irma
  • This Angry Age (1958) as Claude
  • The Wide Blue Road (1957) as Rosetta
  • The Night Heaven Fell (Les Bijoutiers du clair de lune) (1958) as Florentine
  • L'amore più bello (1958) as Carolina
  • Signé Arsène Lupin (1959) as Aurélia Valéano
  • Treno di Natale (1960)
  • Eyes Without a Face (1960) as Louise
  • Dialogue with the Carmelites (1960) as Mère Thérèse de Saint-Augustin
  • The Gigolo (1960) as Agathe
  • Il peccato degli anni verdi (1960) as Elena's mother
  • The Long Absence (1961) as Thérèse Langlois
  • The Happy Thieves (1961) as Duchess Blanca
  • La fille du torrent (1961) as Livia Boissière
  • Disorder (1962) as Carlo's Mother
  • Al otro lado de la ciudad (1962)
  • Homage at Siesta Time (1962) as Constance Fischer
  • A la salida (1963)
  • Ophelia (1963) as Claudia Lesurf
  • The Castilian (1963) as Reina Teresa
  • The Paper Man (1963) as La Italiana
  • Una cara para escapar (1963)
  • L'Autre Femme (1964) as Annabel
  • Black Humor (segment: "La vedova", 1965) as The Widow - segment 3 'La cornacchia'
  • Edipo re (1967) as Merope
  • The Mushroom (1970) as Linda Benson
  • La strategia del ragno (1970) as Draifa
  • Eye in the Labyrinth (1972) as Gerda
  • La prima notte di quiete (1972) as Marcella Abati - Vanina's mother
  • Lisa and the Devil (1973) as Countess
  • Diario di un italiano (1973) as Olga
  • Lola (1974) as Louise
  • Tender Dracula (1974) as Héloïse
  • The Antichrist (1974) as Irene
  • La Chair de l'orchidée (1975) as La folle de la gare
  • Cher Victor (1975) as Anne
  • Il caso Raoul (1975) as Elsa
  • Novecento (1976) as Signora Pioppi
  • Le jeu du solitaire (1976) as Germaine
  • The Cassandra Crossing (1976) as Nanny
  • Suspiria (1977) as Miss Tanner
  • Un cuore semplice (1977) as Mrs. Obin
  • Berlinguer, I Love You (1977) as Mrs. Cioni
  • Porco mondo (1978) as Teresina
  • The Perfect Crime (1978) as Lady Clementine De Revere
  • Zoo zéro (1979) as Yvonne, la mère
  • Killer Nun (1979) as Mother Superior
  • La luna (1979) as Giuseppe's Mother
  • Licanthropus, il figlio della notte (1979)
  • Inferno (1980) as Carol, the caretaker
  • Aquella casa en las afueras (1980) as Isabel
  • Puppenspiel mit toten Augen (1980)
  • Peacetime in Paris (1981)
  • The Fall of the Rebel Angels (1981) as Bettina
  • Aspern (1982) as Juliana Bartes
  • Sogni mostruosamente proibiti (1982) as Madre di Marina
  • Secrets Secrets (1985) as Gina
  • Le jupon rouge (1987) as Bacha
  • À notre regrettable époux (1988) as Catarina
  • La bocca (1991) as Countess Bianca Rospigliosi
  • The Party's Over (1991) as Clara
  • The Long Silence (1993) as Carla's Mother
  • Bugie rosse (1993) as Caterina, Andrea's mother
  • A Month by the Lake (1995) as Signora Fascioli
  • Fotogrammi mortali (1996) as Countess Alessandra Mirafiori
  • Il dolce rumore della vita (1999) as Sofia's grandmother
  • Vino santo (2000) as Sveva
  • Probably Love (2001) as Alida Valli
  • Semana santa (2002) as Doña Catalina (final film role)

Television

  • I Figli di Medea (1959) as Medea / Alida Valli
  • Il caso Mauritius (1961)
  • Doughboy (episode of Combat!, 1963) as Marie
  • Desencuentro (series, 1964)
  • Rome Will Never Leave You, three episodes of Dr. Kildare (1964) as Luisa Brabante
  • Il consigliere imperiale (1974)
  • Les grandes conjurations: Le tumulte d'Amboise (1978)
  • L'altro Simenon (series, 1979)
  • L'eredità della priora (serial, 1980) as Priora
  • Dramma d'amore (serial, 1983)
  • Piccolo mondo antico (serial, 1989) as La marchesa Maironi
  • Una vita in gioco 2 (serial, 1992)
  • Delitti privati (1992) as Matilde Pierboni

Theatre

  • La casa dei Rosmer (1956) Henrik Ibsen (aka Rosmersholm)
  • L'uomo, la bestia e la virtù (1956), Luigi Pirandello
  • Gli innocenti (1956), William Archibald
  • Enrico IV (1958), Luigi Pirandello
  • Il sole e la luna (1965), Guglielmo Biraghi
  • Epitaffo per George Dillon (1966), John Osborne and Anthony Creighton (Epitaph for George Dillon)
  • Uno sguardo dal ponte (1967), Arthur Miller (A View from the Bridge)
  • La bambolona (1968), Raf Vallone
  • Il dio Kurt (1969), Alberto Moravia
  • I parenti terribili (1969), Jean Cocteau (Les parents terribles)
  • LSD-Lei, scusi, divorzierebbe? (1970), Carlo Maria Pensa
  • Uno sporco egoista (1971), Francois Dorin
  • Lulu (Lo spirito della terra – Il vaso di Pandora) (1972), Frank Wedekind (Lulu [Erdgeist-Die Büchse der Pandora])
  • Le massacre à Paris (1972), Christopher Marlowe (The Massacre at Paris)
  • Il Gabbiano (1973), Anton Cechov
  • L'uomo che incontrò de stesso (1981), Luigi Antonelli
  • La Venexiana (1981), Anonimo del Cinquecento
  • La fiaccola sotto il moggio (1981), Gabriele d'Annunzio
  • Ekaterina Ivanovna (1983), Leonid Andreev
  • Il malinteso (1984), Albert Camus (Le malentendu)
  • Romeo e Giulietta (1985), William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)
  • A porte chiuse, da Sartre a Mishima (1986), di Jean-Paul Sartre e Yukio Mishima (Huis clos – Aoi – Hanjo)
  • La città morta (1988), Gabriele D'Annunzio
  • La nave (1988), Gabriele D'Annunzio
  • I paraventi (1990), Jean Genet (Les paravents)
  • Improvvisamente l'estate scorsa (1991), Tennessee Williams (Suddenly Last Summer)
  • Più grandiose dimore (1993), Eugene O'Neill
  • Così è (se vi pare) (1994), Luigi Pirandello
  • Questa sera si recita a soggetto (1995), Luigi Pirandello

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1948 Lux Radio Theatre The Miracle of the Bells

Lux Radio Theatre broadcast "The Paradine Case" in a radio adaptation of the film on 9 May 1949, starring Joseph Cotten, with Alida Valli and Louis Jourdan reprising their role

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