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Virna Lisi
Italian actress

Virna Lisi

Virna Lisi
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Italian actress
A.K.A. Virna Lisa Pieralisi
Was Actor
From Italy
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 8 November 1936, Ancona
Death 18 December 2014, Rome (aged 78 years)
Residence Ancona
Height: 1.651 m
The details (from wikipedia)


Virna Pieralisi (pronounced [ˈvirna pjeraˈliːzi]; 8 November 1936 – 18 December 2014), better known as Virna Lisi [ˈvirna ˈliːzi], was an Italian actress. Her film appearances included How to Murder Your Wife (1965), Not With My Wife You Don't (1966), Beyond Good and Evil (1977), and Follow Your Heart (1996). For the 1994 film La Reine Margot, she won Best Actress at Cannes and the César Award for Best Supporting Actress.


Early career

Ancona-born Lisi began her film career in her teens. Discovered in Paris by two Neapolitan producers, Antonio Ferrigno and Ettore Pesce, she debuted in La corda d'acciaio (The Steel Rope, 1953). Initially, she did musical films, like E Napoli canta (Napoli Sings, 1953) and the successful Questa è la vita (Of Life and Love, 1954, with the popular Totò). Nonetheless, her beauty was more valued than her talent, as seen in Le diciottenni (Eighteen Year Olds) and Lo scapolo (The Bachelor) films of 1955. Yet she filled demanding roles, particularly in La donna del giorno (1956), Eva (1962), and the spectacle Romolo e Remo (1961).

In the late 1950s, Lisi did theater at Piccolo Teatro di Milano in I giacobini by Federico Zardi under the direction of Giorgio Strehler. During the 1960s, Lisi did comedies and participated in television dramas that were widely viewed in Italy. Lisi also promoted a toothpaste brand on television with a slogan that would become a catchphrase among Italians: "con quella bocca può dire ciò che vuole" (with such a mouth, she can say whatever she wants).

Hollywood career

Hollywood producers sought a new Marilyn Monroe and so, Lisi debuted in Hollywood comedy as a blue-eyed blonde temptress opposite Jack Lemmon in How to Murder Your Wife (1965) and appeared with Tony Curtis in Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966). Lisi then starred with Frank Sinatra, in Assault on a Queen (1966), in La Ragazza e il Generale, co-starring with Rod Steiger, and in two films with Anthony Quinn, The Secret of Santa Vittoria, directed by Stanley Kramer, and the war drama The 25th Hour. She garnered attention for a photo of her 'shaving' her face that appeared on the March 1965 cover of Esquire magazine.

Career renaissance in Europe

To overcome her typecasting playing seductresses, Lisi sought new types of roles, of evil women or of a lover in relationships of disparate age for example. In those years, she participated in Italian productions, in Casanova 70 and Le bambole (1965), Arabella (1967), and Le dolci signore (1968). Lisi also starred in The Birds, the Bees and the Italians (1965) which shared the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year.

In the early 1970s, she took a temporary hiatus from acting to spend more time with her husband Franco Pesci and their son, Corrado. Nonetheless, Lisi's career underwent a renaissance with a number of projects, including Al di là del bene e del male (1977), Ernesto (1979), and La cicala (1980). For the film La Reine Margot (1994), Lisi's portrayal of Catherine de' Medici won her both the César and Cannes Film Festival awards, along with a Silver Ribbon for Best supporting Actress. In 2002, Lisi starred in Il più bel giorno della mia vita.

Virna Lisi then participated in many sitcoms and TV series. Her last movie was in the Italian comedy-drama Latin Lover in 2014, shortly before her death.


On 18 December 2014, Lisi died of cancer in Rome at age 78.


A Brazilian rock band named Virna Lisi is named after her. The 1980s Argentinian band Sumo (led by Luca Prodan) made a song for her. The singer's brother is the actor Andrea Prodan, who appeared with her in the movie I ragazzi di via Panisperna (1988).


Year Film Role Notes
1953 Naples Sings Maria Mariani
1954 Desiderio 'e sole Laura
Violenza sul lago Laura, Marco's daughter
Lettera napoletana Anna Esposito
The Steel Rope Stella
And Naples Sings Maria
Il cardinale Lambertini Maria di Pietramelara
The Courier of Moncenisio Jeanne Thibaud
1955 Eighteen Year Olds Maria Rovani
Addio Napoli!
New Moon Lucia
La rossa Maria
Les Hussards Elisa
The Bachelor Extra Uncredited
1956 Vendicata!
1957 The Woman of the Day Liliana Attenni
1958 Il Conte di Matera Greta Tramontana, figlia di Rambaldo
Toto, Peppino and the Fanatics Ragazza
1959 Vite perdute Anna
Il padrone delle ferriere Claire de Beaulieu
World of Miracles Laura Damiani
Caterina Sforza, la leonessa di Romagna Caterina Sforza
1960 Un militare e mezzo Anita Rossi
1961 Sua Eccellenza si fermò a mangiare Silvia
5 marines per 100 ragazze Grazia
Romolo e Remo Julia
1962 Eva Francesca Ferrara
1963 The Shortest Day Naja, una spia austriaca
Don't Tempt the Devil Gina Bianchi
1964 The Black Tulip Caroline "Caro" Plantin
Coplan prend des risques Ingrid Carlsen
1965 How to Murder Your Wife Mrs. Ford
The Dolls Luisa (segment "La telefonata")
The Possessed Tilde
Casanova 70 Gigliola
Made in Italy Virginia (segment "3 'La Donna', episode 1")
Kiss the Other Sheik Dorothea (segment "L'ora di punta"), also known as The Man, the Woman and the Money
1966 The Birds, the Bees and the Italians Milena Zulian
A Maiden for a Prince Giulia
Assault on a Queen Rosa Lucchesi
Not with My Wife, You Don't! Julie Ferris / Lieutenant Julietta Perodi
1967 The 25th Hour Suzanna Moritz
The Girl and the General Ada
Arabella Arabella
1968 Anyone Can Play Luisa
The Girl Who Couldn't Say No Yolanda Nominated—Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
Better a Widow Rosa Minniti
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium John's Beautiful Cousin in Rome
The Christmas Tree Catherine Graziani
The Secret of Santa Vittoria Caterina Malatesta
1970 The Heist Stella
The Voyeur Claude
1971 The Statue Rhonda Bolt
Love Me Strangely Nathalie Revent
Roma Bene Duchess Silvia Santi
1972 The Pebbles of Etratat Alny
Bluebeard Elga
1973 Night Flight from Moscow Annabel Lee
White Fang Sister Evangelina
1974 Challenge to White Fang Sister Evangelina
1977 Beyond Good and Evil Elisabeth Nietzsche Nastro d'Argento for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Grolla for Best Actress
1979 Ernesto Ernesto's Mother
Bugie bianche Luisa Herrighe
1980 The Cricket Wilma Malinverni David di Donatello for Best Actress
Golden Grolla for Best Actress
1982 Miss Right Anna
1983 Time for Loving Adriana Balestra David di Donatello for Best Supporting Actress
Nastro d'Argento for Best Supporting Actress
1984 Amarsi un po' Princess Marisa Cellini
1987 I Love N.Y. Anna Cotone
1989 Via Panisperna Boys Ettore Majorana's Mother
Merry Christmas... Happy New Year Elvira Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
Nominated—David di Donatello for Best Actress
1994 La Reine Margot Catherine de Medici Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award
Nastro d'Argento for Best Supporting Actress
César Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—David di Donatello for Best Supporting Actress
1995 One Hundred and One Nights Herself - in Cannes
1996 Follow Your Heart Olga Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
Italian Golden Globe for Best Actress
Nominated—David di Donatello for Best Actress
2002 The Best Day of My Life Irene Nastro d'Argento for Best Supporting Actress
Flaiano Prize for Best Actress – Audience Award
2015 Latin Lover Rita Posthumous
Nominated—David di Donatello for Best Actress
Nominated—Italian Golden Globe for Best Actress
(final film role)


  • Cenerentola (1961) as Cenerentola
  • Il caso Maurizius (1961)
  • Una tragedia americana (1962) as Sondra Finchley
  • Christopher Columbus (1985) as Dona Moniz Perestrello
  • Uno di noi (1996)
  • Desert of Fire (1997) as Christine Duvivier
  • Cristallo di rocca (1999) as Sanna
  • Le ali della vita (2000) as Sorella Alberta
  • Piccolo mondo antico (2001) as Marchesa Orsola
  • Il bello delle donne (2001) as Contessa Miranda Spadoni
  • Caterina e le sue figlie (2005–2010) as Caterina
  • L'onore e il rispetto (2006) as Ersilia Fortebracci

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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