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José Luis de Vilallonga, 9th Marquess of Castellbell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Marquess of Castellbell

Audrey Hepburn amb Vilallonga.jpg
José Luis de Vilallonga y Cabeza de Vaca

(1920-01-29)29 January 1920
Died30 August 2007(2007-08-30) (aged 87)
Resting placePoblenou Cemetery
OccupationAuthor, aristocrat and actor
Years active19581997
The Hon. Esyllt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis
(m. 1945; div. 1972)

Syliane Stella Morell
(m. 1974; div. 1995)

(m. 1999⁠–⁠2007)
Partner(s)Michèle Girardon (1958–1972)

José Luis de Vilallonga y Cabeza de Vaca, 9th Marquess of Castellbell, GE (29 January 1920 – 30 August 2007) was a Spanish nobleman, actor and author.

He was born in Madrid to an important Catalan noble family, son of Salvador de Vilallonga y Cárcer, 8th Marquess of Castellbell amongst other titles, and María del Carmen Cabeza de Vaca y Carvajal, daughter of the 9th Marquess of Portago. On his paternal side, he was descended from viceroy Amat, whereas on his maternal side, some of Vilallonga's ancestors were Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Pedro Téllez-Girón, Ferrante Gonzaga II and Christopher Columbus.[1] Both Alfonso de Portago and Vicente Sartorius were his first cousins.[2]

Growing up, he spent the first two years of his life at a clinic in Munich, to recover from an intestinal condition with which he was born. He studied at the Jesuits of Barcelona and in other schools from which he was often expelled for misbehaviour. When the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed in 1931, he went into exile with his parents to Biarritz for six months but eventually returned. Her grandmother had a powerful influence on his education, which was very broad and advanced for the time. The Spanish Civil War broke out while Vilallonga was studying at École Saint-Elme, a Dominican school in Arcachon. He immediately returned to Spain and entered the ranks of the rebel faction as a provisional second lieutenant of Requetés; he recounted that he was part of a firing squad as young as 16 years old.

After pursuing a four-year long career in diplomacy, he married his first wife Esyylt Priscilla Scott-Ellis, a daughter of Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden, while he was working as an attaché in London. He then became interested in journalism and literature, his first works being at Diario de Barcelona. Vilallonga also worked for foreign magazines including Paris Match, as he was banned from returning to Spain following the Francoist regime's censoreship of a few of his articles. His actor career came through as a result of his good connections with many prominent figures of the artistic world, landing roles in The Lovers (1958), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962) and Darling (1965). In Spain, he was noted for his performance in the second and third films of Berlanga's "Nacional" trilogy, namely Patrimonio Nacional (1981) and Nacional III (1982).

After a brief step through politics that included toying with the Socialist Party of Spain, Vilallonga wrote the first ever and only authorised biography of king Juan Carlos I, titled El Rey and published in 1993.[3]

His peculiar character, described as "a mixture of aristocratic arrogance, self-confidence and unconcern",[4] brought him frequent enmities with other public figures. He was known to be a multifaceted, charming, elegant and playboy-like figure.[5][6] At his death in 2007, Vilallonga was referred to by several newspapers as "the last dandy".[7][8]

Early life

Born in Madrid, Spain, de Vilallonga – who also went by the surname of Cabeza de Vaca – was a Grandee of Spain and part of the nobility, holding the title of Marquess of Castellbell. Upon the declaration in 1931 of Spain's Second Republic his family went into exile in Biarritz, France, but returned six months later. When the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936, de Vilallonga was at a French school, but his father ordered him back to Spain to fight on the side of the Nationalists. By his mother's family side he was a first cousin of both the Marquess of Portago and the Marquess of Mariño, being all from the maternal side of the Cabeza de Vaca family. His father was an enthusiastic supporter of the rebel side, and at age 16 de Vilallonga was allegedly a serving member of a Nationalist execution platoon.[9]


After World War II, de Vilallonga became increasingly disenchanted with Francoist Spain, and he left the Spanish diplomatic service to live abroad. In 1954 his first novel, The Ramblas End in the Sea, was published, causing the Spanish military government censor to issue a ban on his reentry to the country. He then obtained work as a foreign correspondent for the national press agency EFE and for the magazines Paris Match, Marie Claire and Vogue. His social connections and ability to relate gossip among Europe's jet set enabled him to regularly sell magazine articles, in addition to authoring four autobiographical tell-all books about his numerous love affairs.[9] After recording taped interviews with Spain's King Juan Carlos, he wrote an official biography of the King that was published in 1993.

Throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, de Vilallonga continued his acting career. Though he refused a Hollywood acting contract, a highlight in his acting career was a role as "José da Silva Pereira," the dashing Brazilian multimillionaire whom Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn) planned to marry in Blake Edwards' classic movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). He also appeared as the debonair Prince Cesare Della Romita, who becomes Julie Christie's second husband in Darling (1965).

Personal life

Vilallonga was married three times,[10] to The Honourable Esyllt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis (daughter of Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden) (b. 1916 d. 1983) (married 1945, divorced 1972), Syliane Stella Morell (married 1974, divorced 1995), and since 1999 to journalist Begoña Aranguren. A spendthrift, he soon disposed of much of his first wife's inheritance and property. He had frequent affairs, including a relationship with the French actress Michèle Girardon and Hungarian actress Magda Gabor,[11] both while still legally married to Essylt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis. Girardon eventually committed suicide in 1975 after de Vilallonga ended their relationship to marry Syliane Stella Morell. Though courts twice found him liable for alimony to his first wife Essylt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis, de Vilallonga never paid the judgment, an act which reduced her to poverty for the remainder of her life. His third wife Begoña Aranguren also became disenchanted with de Vilallonga, and the couple separated in 2002. Aranguren wrote a scathing portrayal of the aging socialite and their marriage in 2004.[9]


De Vilallonga died at his home on the island of Mallorca on 30 August 2007 from natural causes.[12][13] He is survived by children John and Carmen from his first marriage and an adopted son Fabricio. King Juan Carlos expressed his sadness at Vilallonga's death.


Year Title Role Notes
1958 The Lovers Raoul Florès
1960 L'Ennemi dans l'ombre Georges Dandieu
1961 Vive Henri IV, vive l'amour L'envoyé d'Espagne
1961 Les Mauvais Coups Prévieux
1961 The Nina B. Affair Kurt
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's José da Silva Pereira, a Brazilian millionaire.
1962 Tales of Paris Louis (segment "Sophie")
1962 Cléo from 5 to 7 The Lover
1962 Le Rendez-vous de minuit Bob
1962 The Law of Men Le prêtre
1963 Any Number Can Win M. Grimp
1963 Don't Tempt the Devil Paul Dupré
1964 Behold a Pale Horse Horse Dealer
1964 The Magnificent Cuckold The Club President
1965 The Three Faces Rodolph (segment "Gli amanti celebri")
1965 The Sucker Uncredited
1965 Darling Prince Cesare della Romita
1965 Juliet of the Spirits Giorgio's friend
1966 A Maiden for a Prince Alessandro de Medici
1966 Tecnica di un omicidio Dr. Goldstein / Frank Secchy
1967 L'homme qui trahit la mafia Mario Vérona
1970 The Naughty Cheerleader Mr. Epstein
1971 Sapho ou la Fureur d'aimer Maurice Duran-Vior
1971 The Burglars Tasco
1972 Le Viager Le général qui décore Martinet Uncredited
1973 The Angels Bernard
1975 Trop c'est trop Le photographe
1976 The Good and the Bad
1976 Chi dice donna dice donna Louis (segment "Donne d'affari")
1980 Speed Cross Meyer
1980 Voltati Eugenio Tristano
1980 Une femme au bout de la nuit Xavier, le mari
1981 National Heritage Álvaro
1981 Patrizia Lord James Cook
1981 Dos y dos, cinco Juanjo's Father
1982 Nacional III Álvaro
1983 Femmes Uncredited
1983 Scarab Presidente frances
1984 Poppers Max
1985 Tex and the Lord of the Deep Dr. Warton
1988 La Diputada Federico
1989 Blood and Sand Don José
1992 The Long Winter Conde de Santbenet


  • The Man of Blood (1961), ISBN 2-02-000961-7
  • Allegro Barbaro (1969), ISBN 2-02-001077-1
  • Fiesta (1995), ISBN 2-221-08213-3
  • Solo, Editions (2000), ISBN 2-226-00331-2


  1. ^, Ancestors of José Luis de Vilallonga
  2. ^ Luis Antonio de Villena, "José Luis de Vilallonga, un gentilhombre del todo incorrecto" in El Mundo, 10 September 2007
  3. ^ Redacción, "Fallece a los 87 años el escritor José Luis de Vilallonga" in La Vanguardia, 30 August 2007
  4. ^ María Jesús Hernández, "Un Grande de España 'políticamente incorrecto'" in El Mundo, 30 August 2007
  5. ^ Unknown, "«Playboys» por el placer de vivir bien" in La Razón, 14 May 2011
  6. ^ Raquel Piñeiro, "José Luis de Vilallonga y Begoña Aranguren: La Boda Otoñal que Surgió de un Programa de Televisión" in Vanity Fair, 28 September 2019
  7. ^ Beatriz Cortázar, "Fallece en Mallorca, a los 87 años, José Luis de Vilallonga, el último dandi" in ABC, 31 August 2007
  8. ^ M. Lorenci, "Muere a los 87 años el polifacético aristócrata José Luis de Vilallonga" in El Norte de Castilla, 31 August 2007
  9. ^ a b c José Luis de Vilallonga | Times Online Obituary
  10. ^ "José Luis de Vilallonga". IMDb. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  11. ^ Paul Preston, Doves of War: Four Women of Spain (UPNE, 2002), page 106
  12. ^ "'Breakfast at Tiffany's' actor dies -". Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  13. ^ Harris M. Lentz III Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2007: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture , p. 392, at Google Books

External links

This page was last edited on 26 May 2021, at 13:25
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