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Monica Vitti
Monica Vitti (1965) (cropped).jpg
Vitti in 1965
Maria Luisa Ceciarelli

(1931-11-03)3 November 1931
Died2 February 2022(2022-02-02) (aged 90)
Rome, Italy
Years active1954–1992
Roberto Russo
(m. 2000)

Monica Vitti (born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli; 3 November 1931 – 2 February 2022) was an Italian actress known for her starring roles in films directed by Michelangelo Antonioni during the early-to-mid 1960s. After working with Antonioni, Vitti changed focus and began making comedies, working with director Mario Monicelli on many films. She appeared with Marcello Mastroianni, Alain Delon, Richard Harris, Terence Stamp, and Dirk Bogarde. She was known as the "Queen of Italian cinema".[1]

Vitti won five David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress, seven Italian Golden Globes for Best Actress, the Career Golden Globe, and the Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Award.[2]

Early life

Born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli in Rome on 3 November 1931 to Adele (née Vittiglia) and Angelo Ceciarelli, she later took her stage name from her mother’s maiden name.[3][4][5] Vitti acted in amateur productions as a teenager,[citation needed] then trained as an actress at Rome's National Academy of Dramatic Arts (graduating in 1953)[citation needed] and at Pittman's College, where she played a teen in a charity performance of Dario Niccodemi's La nemica.[citation needed] She toured Germany with an Italian acting troupe and her first stage appearance in Rome was for a production of Niccolò Machiavelli's La Mandragola.[citation needed]

Vitti as Marisa Ceciarelli early in her career (1953)
Vitti as Marisa Ceciarelli early in her career (1953)

Film career

Early roles

Vitti's first film role was an uncredited bit part in Edoardo Anton's Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! (1954).[citation needed] She was in Adriana Lecouvreur (1955),[citation needed] the TV series L'alfiere (1956)[citation needed] and the TV movies Questi ragazzi (1956)[citation needed] and Il tunnel (1958).[citation needed] She did an episode of Mont-Oriol (1958)[citation needed] and dubbed Rossana Rory's voice in Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958).[citation needed]

Vitti's first widely noted performance was at the age of 26, in Mario Amendola's Le dritte (1958) with Franco Fabrizi.[citation needed] She was in the TV movie Il borghese gentiluomo (1959).[6]


In 1957 she joined Michelangelo Antonioni's Teatro Nuovo di Milano and dubbed the voice of Dorian Gray in the director's Il Grido (The Cry, 1957).[citation needed] She played a leading role in Antonioni's internationally praised film L'Avventura (1960), as a detached and cool protagonist drifting into a relationship with the lover of her missing girlfriend.[citation needed] Giving a screen presence which has been described as "stunning", she is also credited with helping Antonioni raise money for the production and sticking with him through daunting location shooting. L'Avventura made Vitti an international star.[citation needed] Her image later appeared on an Italian postage stamp commemorating the film.[citation needed] According to The New York Times, Vitti's "air of disenchantment perfectly conveys the unreal aura of her heroines."[7]

Vitti received critical praise for her starring roles in the Antonioni film La Notte (Night, 1961),[citation needed] with Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni. Vitti starred in a TV movie Le notti bianche (1962)[citation needed] then did a third with Antonioni, L'Eclisse (1962) with Alain Delon.[8]

Vitti was one of many stars in an anthology movie, Three Fables of Love (1962).[citation needed] She had a cameo in Sweet and Sour (1963) and played the lead in a comedy for Roger Vadim, Nutty, Naughty Chateau (1963).[citation needed] Vitti was then in another anthology film High Infidelity (1964)[citation needed] and made a fourth with Antonioni, Il Deserto Rosso (Red Desert, 1964), with Richard Harris.[citation needed] The director said Vitti "certainly inspires me, because I like to watch and direct her, but the parts I give her are a long way from her own character."[9] After Vitti's relationship with Antonioni ended, the two did not work together again until Il mistero di Oberwald (1980).[10]

Vitti starred in a comedy for Tinto Brass, The Flying Saucer (1964), and appeared in the anthology, The Dolls (1964).[11]

Vitti in The Girl with a Pistol (1968).
Vitti in The Girl with a Pistol (1968).

International films

Vitti's first English-language film was Modesty Blaise (1966), a mod James Bond spy spoof in which she performed in July 1965.[12] Co-starring Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde, directed by Joseph Losey, it had only mixed success and received harsh critical reviews.[citation needed]

She performed in the anthology movie The Queens (1966),[citation needed] a television series Les fables de La Fontaine (1966),[citation needed] Kill Me Quick, I'm Cold (1967) with Jean Sorel,[citation needed] and I Married You for Fun (1967).[citation needed]

Vitti appeared in On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who... (1967) with Tony Curtis,[citation needed] The Girl with a Pistol (1968) with Stanley Baker,[citation needed] The Bitch Wants Blood (1969) with Maurice Ronet,[citation needed] and Help Me, My Love (1969) with Alberto Sordi.[13]


Vitti in Duck in Orange Sauce (1975)
Vitti in Duck in Orange Sauce (1975)

Vitti starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Ettore Scola's highly successful romantic comedy Dramma della gelosia (The Pizza Triangle, 1970).[citation needed] She followed it with Ninì Tirabusciò, la donna che inventò la mossa (1970),[citation needed] Le coppie (1970) with Sordi,[citation needed] The Pacifist (1970),[citation needed] La supertestimone (1971),[citation needed] That's How We Women Are (1971),[citation needed] and Orders Are Orders (1972).[14]

Vitti was in a version of La Tosca (1973)[citation needed] and a comedy Teresa the Thief (1973).[citation needed] She made Polvere di stelle (1973), directed by Alberto Sordi, for which she won the 1974 David di Donatello award for Best Actress.[citation needed]

Vitti played a key part in one of the episodic vignettes in Luis Buñuel's The Phantom of Liberty (1974).[citation needed] She did two films with Claudia Cardinale, The Immortal Bachelor (1975)[citation needed] and Blonde in Black Leather (1975).[citation needed]

She was in Duck in Orange Sauce (1975),[citation needed] Mimì Bluette... fiore del mio giardino (1976),[citation needed] Basta che non si sappia in giro!.. (1977),[citation needed] L'altra metà del cielo (1977),[citation needed] State Reasons (1978),[citation needed] Il cilindro (1978),[citation needed] Per vivere meglio, divertitevi con noi (1978),[citation needed] Amori miei (1978),[citation needed] and Tigers in Lipstick (1979) (with Ursula Andress).[citation needed]

Vitti's second English-language film was An Almost Perfect Affair (1979), directed by Michael Ritchie and co-starring Keith Carradine, which was set during the Cannes Film Festival.[15] A New York Times article from that period reported Vitti had resisted starring in American films as she did not like long travel, especially by air, and believed that her English was not of a high enough standard.[16] Indeed, such was her aversion to travelling from Europe that Paramount Pictures was apparently forced to cancel the first leg of a publicity tour that had been organised in the US to promote the release of An Almost Perfect Affair.[17]

Later career

Vitti in 1990
Vitti in 1990

Vitti reunited with Antonioni in The Mystery of Oberwald (Il mistero di Oberwald, 1980).[16] She followed it with I Don't Understand You Anymore (1980),[citation needed] Camera d'albergo (1981),[citation needed] Tango of Jealousy (1981),[citation needed] I Know That You Know That I Know (1982) with Sordi,[citation needed] Scusa se è poco (1982),[citation needed] Flirt (1983),[citation needed] and Francesca è mia (1986).[citation needed] She also co-wrote the last two films.[citation needed] In 1984, she was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters by French Culture Minister Jack Lang, who praised her for helping spur a renewal of Italian films. "We need Italian cinema to find its health again so that French cinema will not remain an island in the middle of other European countries," Lang said.[18] By 1986, Vitti had returned to the theatre as an actress and teacher.[citation needed]

In 1989, Vitti tried writing and directing, and created Scandalo Segreto (1990), which she also starred in alongside Elliott Gould.[10] The film was not a success[citation needed] and she then retired from cinema.[citation needed] During the 1990s she did television work, acting and directing, including Ma tu mi vuoi bene? (1992).[citation needed]

In 1993, Vitti was awarded the Festival Tribute at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival, in France.[citation needed]

Personal life and death

Michelangelo Antonioni and Vitti met in the late 1950s, and their relationship grew stronger after L'Avventura was made, because it had shaped both their careers. However, by the late 1960s, they ceased working on films, making the relationship strained until it officially ended.[citation needed] In a later interview, Vitti stated that Antonioni ended their relationship.[citation needed]

In 2000, Vitti married Roberto Russo, with whom she had been in a relationship since 1973.[19] She made her last public appearance in 2002 at the Paris premiere of the stage-musical Notre-Dame de Paris.[20][21] In 2011, it was disclosed that Alzheimer's disease had "removed her from the public gaze for the last 15 years."[22] In 2018, her husband confirmed she was still living at home with him in Rome and that he looked after her personally, with the assistance of a caregiver.[23]

Vitti died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in Rome on 2 February 2022, at the age of 90.[24][25]



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  1. ^ "Monica Vitti: 'Queen of Italian cinema' dies at 90". BBC News. 2 February 2022. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  2. ^ Enrico Lancia (1998). I premi del cinema. Gremese Editore, 1998. ISBN 978-8877422217.
  3. ^ Gentile, Giovanni; Tumminelli, Calogero (2 February 1995). Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti. Istituto Giovanni Treccani – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "VITTI, Monica in "Enciclopedia Italiana"".
  5. ^ "Monica Vitti obituary". The Guardian. 2 February 2022. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  6. ^ Features/Articles/People: Monica Vitti. Walter, Eugene. Vogue; New York Vol. 147, Iss. 4, (15 February 1966): 122, 123, 124, 125, 155.
  7. ^ 'Most Controversial Director': Controversial Director, by Melton S. Davisrome. New York Times 15 November 1964: SM34.
  8. ^ Houston, Penelope. "The Eclipse". Sight and Sound; London Vol. 32, Iss. 2 (Spring 1963): 90.
  9. ^ In the Red Desert Manceaux, Michele. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 33, Iss. 3, (Summer 1964): 118.
  10. ^ a b Scandal, sex, lies and Vitti tapes: After a life in front of the camera, Monica Vitti has stepped behind it as director Vidal, John. The Guardian 11 May 1990: 36.
  11. ^ Crowther, Bosley (29 June 1965). "Screen: Italian Vignettes:Gina Lollobrigida Tops International Cast". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Monica Vitti in New Film. New York Times 2 July 1965: 17.
  13. ^ Movie Call Sheet: Columbia to Film 'Gorgeous'. Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 19 September 1966: C28.
  14. ^ Beauty Bulletin: Monica Vitti: A Woman for All Seasons, Vogue; New York Vol. 156, Iss. 9, (15 November 1970): 148, 149.
  15. ^ OF PIRATES AND PERRIER. Rosenfield, Paul. Los Angeles Times 26 August 1979: m1.
  16. ^ a b At the Movies: Monica Vitti working again on a project with Antonioni. Buckley, Tom. New York Times 11 May 1979: C6.
  17. ^ If Vanessa talks Trotsky, Timothy trots. Adams Sloan, Robin. Detroit Free Press 16 April 1979: 11B.
  18. ^ France honors actress Monica Vitti. The Globe and Mail 7 March 1984: M.9.
  19. ^ Maurizio Porro (5 November 2020), "Monica Vitti compie 89 anni: la verità sulla malattia, il marito: «Ci capiamo con gli occhi»", Corriere della sera. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  20. ^ ""Ecco come sta mia moglie". Monica Vitti e la verità sulla sua malattia". 17 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Monica Vitti: the last appearance before the illness". 10 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Antonioni's muse is 80: Happy Birthday Monica Vitti". 3 November 2011.
  23. ^ "Il marito di Monica Vitti: "Basta fake news, non è in una clinica svizzera"". 18 January 2018.
  24. ^ Lyman, Rick (2 February 2022). "Monica Vitti, 'Queen of Italian Cinema,' Dies at 90". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  25. ^ "Monica Vitti obituary". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  26. ^ "Berlinale: 1984 Winners". Berlinale. Retrieved 4 January 2011.

Further reading