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Elsa Martinelli

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elsa Martinelli
Martinelli in the TV series The Rogues (1964)
Elisa Tia

(1935-01-30)30 January 1935
Died8 July 2017(2017-07-08) (aged 82)
Rome, Italy
  • Actress
  • model
Years active1953–2005
  • Count Franco Mancinelli di San Vito
    (m. 1957⁠–⁠1960)
  • (m. 1968⁠–⁠1978)
ChildrenCristiana Mancinelli

Elsa Martinelli (born Elisa Tia; 30 January 1935[1] – 8 July 2017) was an Italian actress and fashion model. Described by The Guardian as a "versatile star of Hollywood’s international years whose work spanned romantic comedies, period epics and spaghetti westerns", she went on to star opposite Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Charlton Heston, and Anthony Quinn, be directed by André De Toth, Vittorio De Sica, Howard Hawks and Orson Welles on both sides of the Atlantic.[2]

At her peak from the late 1950s into the late 1960s she was a rival of top "Hollywood Italian imports" Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale. Her slim, sexy figure and elfin looks birthed the quip that she was a “kind of Audrey Hepburn with sex appeal”. Outside her busy film career, Martinelli was a member of the glitterati, married to an Italian count and befriending such international celebrities as Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy.[2]

Martinelli made over 50 film appearances between 1954 and 1992.

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Life and career

Elsa Martinelli was born Elisa Tia in Grosseto, Tuscany, and moved to Rome with her family. In 1953, she was discovered by Roberto Capucci, who introduced her to the world of fashion. She became a model and began playing small roles in films, such as Le Rouge et le Noir (1954). But her first important film role came the following year in The Indian Fighter opposite Kirk Douglas, who claimed to have spotted her on a magazine cover and hired her for his production company, Bryna Productions.[3] Douglas subsequently signed her to a two-year/two pictures a year non-exclusive contract with Bryna Productions in February 1956.[4]

Martinelli was then loaned out to Universal-International Pictures in March 1956 for the film Four Girls in Town.[5] That same year, she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival for playing the titular role in Mario Monicelli's Donatella.[6]

From the mid-1950s through the late 1960s, Martinelli divided her time between Europe and the United States, earning major co-starring roles as the female lead in such Hollywood productions as Hatari! (1962, opposite John Wayne) and Rampage (1963, with Robert Mitchum). She appeared in an eclectic array of other films, including Manuela (1957); Bad Girls Don't Cry (a.k.a. La Notte Brava, 1959); Prisoner of the Volga (1959); Blood and Roses (1960); Love in Rome (a.k.a. Un amore a Roma, 1960); The Pigeon That Took Rome (1962); The Trial (1962); The V.I.P.s (1963); The 10th Victim (1965); Hail, Mafia (1965); Woman Times Seven (1967); and Candy (1968).

From the late 1960s onward, Martinelli's output decreased as she worked in mostly European foreign-language productions, such as Manon 70 (1968); One on Top of the Other (1969); and L'amica (1969—for which she won a Silver Ribbon for Best Supporting Actress). Her last English-language role was in Once Upon a Crime (1992). Her final acting appearance was in the 2005 European television series Orgoglio, as the Duchessa di Monteforte.[7]

Personal life

Martinelli married Count Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito in 1957, by whom she had a daughter, Cristiana Mancinelli (born 1958), also an actress. They separated in 1960, but it took until six years for an official annulment. In 1968 she married Willy Rizzo, the Paris Match photographer and 1970s furniture designer.[2][8] The marriage ended in divorce in 1978.


Martinelli died of cancer[9] in Rome on 8 July 2017, at the age of 82.[10][11]


Martinelli in Donatella (1956)
Charles Boyer and Elsa Martinelli in The Rogues (1964)
Martinelli in Rice Girl (1956)
Martinelli in The 10th Victim (1965)
Martinelli in Orson Welles's The Trial with Anthony Perkins in 1963


  1. ^ "Corriere della Sera". Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Bergan, Ronald (14 July 2017). "Elsa Martinelli obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  3. ^ Profile,; accessed 18 March 2015.
  4. ^ Motion Picture Daily (Jan-Mar 1956). MBRS Library of Congress. Quigley Publishing Company. January 1956.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ "Boxoffice-March.24.1956". Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  6. ^ "6th Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  7. ^ IMDb profile; accessed 18 March 2015.
  8. ^ Chilton, Martin. "Willy Rizzo, celebrated photographer, dies at 84". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  9. ^ Sandomir, Richard (11 July 2017). "Elsa Martinelli, Italian Model and Actress, Dies at 82". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "È morta Elsa Martinelli, i mille volti dell'attrice che da Cinecittà arrivò a Hollywood". La Repubblica (in Italian). 8 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  11. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (10 July 2017). "Elsa Martinelli, Star of 'The Indian Fighter,' Dies".

External links

Media related to Elsa Martinelli at Wikimedia Commons

This page was last edited on 3 June 2024, at 22:46
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