Alida Valli  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Alida Valli (31 May, 192122 April, 2006), sometimes simply credited as Valli, was an Italian actress, well-known for such films as Eyes Without a Face.



Early life

Valli was born in Pola, Istria, then part of Italy (now called Pula, Croatia), to parents who both had mixed ancestry. Her paternal grandfather was Luigi Altenburger, an Austrian-Italian from Trento and her paternal grandmother was Elisa Tomasi from Trento, a cousin of Ettore Tolomei. Valli's mother, Silvia Oberecker, was the daughter of the German-Austrian Felix Oberecker from Laibach (now Ljubljana, Slovenia), her mother was Virginia della Martina from Pola, Istria (then part of Austria-Hungary). Valli's maternal granduncle, Rodolfo, was a close friend of Gabriele d'Annunzio. Valli was christened Alida Maria Laura von Altenburger, Baroness of Marckenstein and Frauenberg of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.


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). Her first big success came with the movie Mille lire al mese. After many roles in a large number of comedies, she showed her dramatic talent in Piccolo mondo antico (1941), directed by Mario Soldati. During the Second World War, she starred in many movies, like Stasera niente di nuovo (1942) and Noi Vivi - Addio Kira! (1943) (based on Ayn Rand's novel, We the Living) and became a movie star.

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 Russians in post-war Vienna in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949). But her foreign experience was not a great success due 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 a great success in the melodramatic Senso, directed by Luchino Visconti. In that film, set in mid-1800s 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 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 great directors, like Pier Paolo Pasolini (Edipo re, Oedipus Rex, 1967), Bernardo Bertolucci (La strategia del ragno, 1972; Novecento, 1976), and Dario Argento (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.

Personal life

Valli's movie career suffered as a result of the infamous Wilma Montesi scandal, in which her lover and jazz musician Piero Piccioni (the son of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs) was involved. Montesi was a fashion model. Her lifeless body was found on a public beach near Ostia; prolonged investigations resulted, involving sensational allegations of drug and sex orgies in Roman society. The accusation of Piccioni, of Ugo Montagna, and of Maurizio d'Assia (Moritz von Hessen, the son of Princess Mafalda di Savoia) were a major part of the scandal. Subsequently they were absolved from the accusations. The scandal inspired Federico Fellini's 1960 film La Dolce Vita.Template:Fact

Alida Valli had two sons with her husband Oscar de Mejo: Carlo de Mejo, born in Rome (has a son Pier Paolo de Mejo) and Larry de Mejo, born in Los Angeles, now living in Rochester (has four children in the US).

Valli's death at her home on April 22 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".

Valli was buried at Rome's Verano Cemetery.



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