Simonetta Stefanelli
Simonetta Stefanelli.png
Stefanelli in In nome del popolo italiano (1971)
Born (1954-11-30) 30 November 1954 (age 67)
Rome, Italy
  • Actress
  • entrepreneur
  • designer
Years active1968–1992
(m. 1989; div. 1994)
Children3, including Violante Placido (daughter)

Simonetta Stefanelli (Italian pronunciation: [simoˈnetta steːfaˈnɛlli]; born 30 November 1954) is an Italian entrepreneur, fashion designer and retired actress. Internationally, she is best known for her performance as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone in the 1972 film The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Her other roles include appearances in Moses the Lawgiver, Scandal in the Family and Three Brothers. In 1992, Stefanelli made her last film appearance in the drama Le amiche del cuore (Close Friends) directed by her then husband Michele Placido.

Personal life

Stefanelli was married to the actor/director Michele Placido, with whom she appeared in a number of films, including the 1975 erotic drama Peccati in famiglia. They had three children together, including actress Violante Placido,[1] and they divorced in 1994. Following their divorce, Stefanelli and her children briefly lived in London.[2]

A hoax stating that Stefanelli had died appeared on the Internet in 2006, and then again in 2008.[3][4][5]


Film and television

Before appearing in The Godfather in 1972, Stefanelli had small supporting roles in several Italian films directed by renowned Italian directors: La moglie giapponese (The Japanese Wife) by Gian Luigi Polidoro, Non commettere atti impuri (Do Not Commit Adultery) by Giulio Petroni, Homo Eroticus by Marco Vicario, and In nome del popolo italiano (In the Name of the Italian People) by Dino Risi. In 1972, she appeared in the German television film Die Sonne angreifen (To Attack the Sun) by Peter Lilienthal.

The same year, Stefanelli landed her breakout role as the innocent Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, the beautiful but doomed first wife of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in the American crime film The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. She was shown topless, although only 16 when the production began and 17 when the film came out. Her character was featured in the 1977 miniseries The Godfather: A Novel for Television.[6]

In 1973, she posed nude in the Italian edition of Playboy,[7] but later refused a career in Hollywood, in order to avoid being typecast and required to do nudity. She explained during an interview in 1997 about the offers of Hollywood filmmakers: "They wanted nothing more than to expose my body... I refused so much work."[6][8] She continued her career in Italy. In 1973, she filmed one picture in Spanish, El mejor alcalde, el rey (The Best Mayor, the King), directed by Rafael Gil. The following year, Stefanelli appeared in the miniseries Moses the Lawgiver, starring Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quayle and Ingrid Thulin. She would later have roles in numerous Italian films, including Peccati in famiglia (Scandal in the Family), an erotic drama she starred opposite her husband Michele Placido. Eriprando Visconti, Walerian Borowczyk, Franco Castellano, Giuseppe Moccia and Mario Caiano are some of the directors she worked with.

Stefanelli took a break from acting in the mid-1970s following her marriage and the birth of her daughter, Violante Placido, in 1976. She returned in the early 1980s to appear in Francesco Rosi's Tre fratelli (Three Brothers). After appearing in Michele Placido's film Le amiche del cuore (Close Friends), Stefanelli ended her acting career in 1992, just one year before her daughter began her own acting career.

After a hoax about her death surfaced online in 2007, Stefanelli stated that if a film project came along, she might take it. "But after my death, I don't know," she joked.[9]


Having quit her acting career in 1992, Stefanelli now owns and operates a fashion store in Rome called Simo Bloom, where she designs purses and shoes.[10]


Title Year Role Director Notes
La moglie giapponese 1968 Girl Gian Luigi Polidoro
Non commettere atti impuri 1971 Maria Teresa Giulio Petroni
Die Sonne angreifen 1971 Henia Peter Lilienthal TV film
Man of the Year 1971 Tano's Daughter Marco Vicario
In the Name of the Italian People 1971 Giugi Santenocito Dino Risi
The Godfather 1972 Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone Francis Ford Coppola
Il caso Pisciotta 1972 Anna Eriprando Visconti
Gli amici degli amici hanno saputo 1973 Fulvio Marcolin
The King is the Best Mayor 1973 Elvira Rafael Gil
The Big Family 1973 Mrs. Vitale Tonino Ricci
La profanazione 1974 Tiziano Longo
Ho incontrato un'ombra 1974 Gal Fabian Daniele D'Anza TV series; 3 episodes
Young Lucrezia 1974 Lucrezia Borgia Luciano Ercoli
Moses the Lawgiver 1974 Cotbi Gianfranco De Bosio TV miniseries
La nuora giovane 1975 Mrs. Flora Luigi Russo
Scandal in the Family 1975 Doris Bruno Gaburro
The Godfather: A Novel for Television 1977 Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone Francis Ford Coppola TV miniseries
Il falco e la colomba 1981 Rita Alemani Fabrizio Lori
Three Brothers 1983 Young Donato's wife Francesco Rosi
Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana 1983 Assuntina Piero Schivazappa TV series; 3 episodes
Ars Amandi 1985 Widow Walerian Borowczyk
Grandi magazzini 1986 Marisa Romano Castellano & Pipolo
Non basta una vita 1988 Lungo la via Mario Caiano TV series
Close Friends 1992 Giuliana Michele Placido


  1. ^ Orr, Christopher (3 September 2010). "Clooney's 'The American': Elegant but Empty". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  2. ^ Castro, Peter (24 March 1997). "Family Reunion". People. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  3. ^ Von Ostrand, Maggie (23 October 2007). "Michael Corleone's Sicilian Wife Found Alive!". Film School Rejects. Archived from the original on 28 February 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Simonetta Stefanelli Actress The Godfather Faces Death Rumor on Internet". Encyclocenter. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  5. ^ Friar, Cathryn (15 November 2008). "Simonetta Stefanelli is Not Dead". Right Celebrity. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  6. ^ a b "On the 25th Anniversary of the Godfather, Cast Members Look Back on Life with the Don and Reveal What Came Afterward". People. 24 March 1997. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  7. ^ "La ragazza del padrino". Playboy Italia. No. 2–3. February–March 1973. pp. 53–57.
  8. ^ "Biography for Simonetta Stefanelli". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  9. ^ Destefano, Anthony (25 October 2007). ""Godfather" actress fights Web rumors she's dead". Newsday. Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  10. ^ Denerstein, Robert (30 March 2008). "She stole Michael's heart, then vanished". Denerstein Unleashed. Retrieved 11 March 2012.