Alida Maria Laura, Freiin Altenburger von Marckenstein-Frauenberg (31 May 1921 – 22 April 2006), better known by her stage name Alida Valli (or simply Valli), was an Italian actress who appeared in more than 100 films in a 70-year career, spanning from the 1930s to the early 2000s. She was one of the biggest stars of Italian film during the Fascist era, once being coined "the most beautiful woman in the world" by Benito Mussolini, but managed to find continued international success post-World War II. According to Frédéric Mitterrand, Valli was the only actress in Europe to equal Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo.
Alida Maria Laura, Freiin Altenburger von Marckenstein-Frauenberg
31 May 1921
|Died||22 April 2006 (aged 84)|
Oscar de Mejo
(m. 1944; div. 1952)
(m. 196?; div. 1970)
|Children||2, including Carlo De Mejo|
Valli worked with many significant directors both in Italy and abroad, including Alfred Hitchcock (The Paradine Case; 1947), Carol Reed (The Third Man; 1949), Luchino Visconti (Senso; 1954), Michelangelo Antonioni (Il Grido; 1957), Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face; 1960), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Oedipus Rex; 1967), Mario Bava (Lisa and the Devil; 1972), Bernardo Bertolucci (1900, 1976; La Luna; 1979), and Dario Argento (Suspiria; 1977). Within her lifetime, Valli was invested a Knight of the Italian Republic, and received the Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Film Festival for her contributions to cinema.
Valli was born in Pola, Istria, Italy (today Pula, Croatia; until 1918 it had formed part of Austria-Hungary). She was of Austrian, Slovenian and Italian descent, although "she was never considered to be anything other than Italian." Her paternal grandfather was the Baron Luigi Altenburger (also: Altempurger), an Austrian-Italian from Trento, a descendant of the Counts d'Arco; her paternal grandmother was Elisa Tomasi from Trento, a cousin of the Roman senator Ettore Tolomei. Valli's mother, Silvia Oberecker Della Martina, born in Pola, was a "culturally sophisticated" housewife of half Slovene and half Italian descent. Valli's mother was the daughter of Felix Oberecker (also: Obrekar) from Laibach, Austria (now Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Virginia Della Martina from Pola, Istria (then part of Austria). Valli's maternal granduncle, Rodolfo, was a close friend of Gabriele D'Annunzio. Valli was multi-lingual. She grew up speaking Slovene, Italian, and German and was fluent as well in Serbo-Croatian, French, and English. In European films with international casts she would routinely film her dialogue in the language of the actors opposite her and dub herself (usually in Italian) for the soundtrack.
Valli was christened Freiin Altenburger von Marckenstein-Frauenberg. During her lifetime she also gained the titles Dr.h.c. of the III. University of Rome, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France and Knight of the Italian Republic.
Intellectually gifted, at fifteen Valli travelled to Rome, where she attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, the oldest school for film actors and directors in Western Europe and still one of the most prestigious. 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) during the so-called Telefoni Bianchi cinema era. Her first big success came with the movie Mille lire al mese (1939). After many roles in a large number of comedies, she earned her success as a dramatic actress in Piccolo mondo antico (1941), directed by Mario Soldati, for which she won a special Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival. During the Second World War, she starred in many movies, including Stasera niente di nuovo (1942) (whose song "Ma l'amore no" became the leitmotif of the Italian forties) and the diptych Noi Vivi / Addio Kira! (1943) (based on Ayn Rand's novel We the Living). These latter two movies were nearly censored by the Italian government under Benito Mussolini, but they were finally permitted because the novel upon which they were based was anti-Soviet. The films were successful, and the public easily realized that they were as much against fascism as communism. After several weeks, however, the films were pulled from theaters as the German and Italian governments, which abhorred communism, found out the story also carried an anti-fascist message.
By her early 20s, already widely regarded as the "most beautiful woman in the World", 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 great successes and memorable movies, in Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947) with Gregory Peck; with Fred MacMurray and Frank Sinatra (in his first non-musical performance), in The Miracle of the Bells (1948); alongside Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949), regarded as one of the best movies ever made worldwide and the British Film Institute selection as the greatest British film of all time; and again with Cotten in Walk Softly, Stranger (1950). Through these and other movies she gained international renown, often credited with the cursive word Valli, which would become her characteristic 'wordmark' in America "to make her sound even more exotic." In 1951, she complained that she disliked the single-name reference. "I feel silly going around with only one name," she said. "People get me mixed up with Rudy Vallée." The actress could not tolerate the strict rules of Selznick, who imposed total control on his actors, and managed to gain her contract's rescission, though with the payment of a high penalty.
She returned to Europe in the early 1950s and starred in many French and Italian films. In 1954, she had great success in the melodrama Senso, directed by Luchino Visconti. In that film, set in mid-19th-century Venice during the Risorgimento, she played a Venetian countess torn between patriotic ideals and an adulterous love for an officer (played by Farley Granger) of the occupying Austrian forces.
She appeared in Georges Franju's horror film Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux sans visage, 1959) (Eyes Without a Face, 1959) with Pierre Brasseur. From the 1960s, she worked in several pictures with prominent directors, such as Pier Paolo Pasolini's Edipo re (Oedipus Rex), 1967; Bernardo Bertolucci's La strategia del ragno, 1972; Novecento, 1976, and Dario Argento's 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. At the 54th Venice International Film Festival in 1997 Alida Valli obtained the Golden Lion award for her career.
Her teenage love, Carlo Cugnasca, was a famous Italian acrobatic pilot. He served as a fighter pilot with the Regia Aeronautica and was killed during a mission over British-held Tobruk on 14 April 1941.
Valli married Oscar de Mejo in 1943 and filed for divorce from him in 1949, but they reconciled. They had two sons together before their marriage ended in divorce in 1952 and she returned to Italy. She married Italian film director Giancarlo Zagni in the early 1960s, divorcing in 1970.
Valli's movie career suffered in 1953 from a scandal surrounding the death of Wilma Montesi, whose body was found on a public beach near Ostia. Prolonged investigations resulted, involving allegations of drug and sex orgies in Roman society. Among the accused – all of whom were acquitted, leaving the case unsolved – was Valli's lover, jazz musician Piero Piccioni (son of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs).
The critic David Shipman wrote in his book The Great Movie Stars: The International Years, that on the basis of her best-known films before 1950, she might seem to be "one of Hollywood's least successful continental imports", but a viewer of "any two or three of the films she has made since then ... will probably regard her as one of the half-dozen best actresses in the world". The French critic Frédéric Mitterrand wrote: "[She] was the only actress in Europe to equal Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo".
|1935||The Three-Cornered Hat||Uncredited|
|1936||The Two Sergeants||Una commessa dell'emporio 'Au Bon Marché'||as Alida Altenburger|
|1937||It Was I!||Lauretta|
|The Ferocious Saladin||Dora Florida / La bella Sulamita|
|1938||A Lady Did It||Maria Sardo|
|L'amor mio non muore!||Maria D'Alba|
|The House of Shame||La ragazza|
|1939||A Thousand Lire a Month||Magda|
|Unjustified Absence||Vera Fabbri|
|The Castle Ball||Greta Larsen|
|1940||Manon Lescaut||Manon Lescaut|
|Red Tavern||Susanna Sormani|
|The Last Enemy||A friend of Anna|
|Beyond Love||Vanina Vanini|
|The First Woman Who Passes||Gabrielle de Vervins|
|1941||Piccolo mondo antico||Luisa Rigey Maironi|
|Light in the Darkness||Marina Ferri|
|Schoolgirl Diary||Anna Campolmi|
|The Secret Lover||Renata Croci|
|1942||We the Living||Kira Argounova|
|Invisible Chains||Elena Silvagni|
|The Two Orphans||Enrichetta|
|Addio Kira||Kira Argounova|
|Stasera niente di nuovo||Maria|
|1944||The Za-Bum Circus||segments "Gelosia", "Il postino" and "Galop finale al circo"|
|1945||Il canto della vita||Patrizia Martini|
|Life Begins Anew||Giovanna|
|1946||Eugenia Grandet||Eugenia Grandet|
|1947||The Paradine Case||Maddalena Anna Paradine|
|1948||The Miracle of the Bells||Olga|
|1949||The Third Man||Anna Schmidt|
|1950||The White Tower||Carla Alton|
|Walk Softly, Stranger||Elaine Corelli|
|1951||Les Miracles n'ont lieu qu'une fois||Claudia|
|Last Meeting||Lina Castelli|
|1953||Lovers of Toledo||Doña Inés de Arévalo Blas|
|The World Condemns Them||Renata Giustini|
|We, the Women||Alida||Segment: "Alida Valli"|
|1954||The Stranger's Hand||Roberta Gleukovitch|
|Senso||La contessa Livia Serpieri|
|This Angry Age||Claude|
|The Wide Blue Road||Rosetta|
|1958||The Night Heaven Fell||Florentine|
|L'amore più bello||Carolina|
|1959||Signé Arsène Lupin||Aurélia Valéano|
|1960||Treno di Natale|
|Eyes Without a Face||Louise|
|Dialogue with the Carmelites||Mère Thérèse de Saint-Augustin|
|Il peccato degli anni verdi||Elena's mother|
|1961||The Long Absence||Thérèse Langlois|
|The Happy Thieves||Duchess Blanca|
|La fille du torrent||Livia Boissière|
|Al otro lado de la ciudad|
|Homage at Siesta Time||Constance Fischer|
|1963||A la salida|
|The Castilian||Reina Teresa|
|The Paper Man||La Italiana|
|Una cara para escapar|
|1965||Black Humor||The Widow||segment: "La vedova"|
|1970||The Mushroom||Linda Benson|
|La strategia del ragno||Draifa|
|1972||Eye in the Labyrinth||Gerda|
|La prima notte di quiete||Marcella Abati - Vanina's mother|
|1973||Lisa and the Devil||Countess|
|Diario di un italiano||Olga|
|1975||La Chair de l'orchidée||La folle de la gare|
|Il caso Raoul||Elsa|
|Le jeu du solitaire||Germaine|
|The Cassandra Crossing||Nanny|
|Un cuore semplice||Mrs. Obin|
|Berlinguer, I Love You||Mrs. Cioni|
|The Perfect Crime||Lady Clementine De Revere|
|1979||Zoo zéro||Yvonne, la mère|
|Killer Nun||Mother Superior|
|La luna||Giuseppe's Mother|
|Licanthropus, il figlio della notte|
|1980||Inferno||Carol, the caretaker|
|Aquella casa en las afueras||Isabel|
|Puppenspiel mit toten Augen|
|1981||Peacetime in Paris|
|The Fall of the Rebel Angels||Bettina|
|Sogni mostruosamente proibiti||Marina's mother|
|1987||Le jupon rouge||Bacha|
|1988||À notre regrettable époux||Catarina|
|1991||La bocca||Countess Bianca Rospigliosi|
|The Party's Over||Clara|
|1993||The Long Silence||Carla's Mother|
|Bugie rosse||Caterina, Andrea's mother|
|1995||A Month by the Lake||Signora Fascioli|
|1996||Fotogrammi mortali||Countess Alessandra Mirafiori|
|1999||Il dolce rumore della vita||Sofia's grandmother|
|2001||Probably Love||Alida Valli|
|2002||Semana santa||Doña Catalina||Final film role|
- I Figli di Medea (1959) as Medea / Alida Valli
- Il caso Mauritius (1961)
- Doughboy (episode of Combat!, 1963) as Marie
- Desencuentro (series, 1964)
- Rome Will Never Leave You, three episodes of Dr. Kildare (1964) as Luisa Brabante
- Il consigliere imperiale (1974)
- Les grandes conjurations: Le tumulte d'Amboise (1978)
- L'altro Simenon (series, 1979)
- L'eredità della priora (serial, 1980) as Priora
- Dramma d'amore (serial, 1983)
- Piccolo mondo antico (serial, 1989) as La marchesa Maironi
- Una vita in gioco 2 (serial, 1992)
- Delitti privati (1992) as Matilde Pierboni
- La casa dei Rosmer (1956) Henrik Ibsen (aka Rosmersholm)
- L'uomo, la bestia e la virtù (1956), Luigi Pirandello
- Gli innocenti (1956), William Archibald
- Enrico IV (1958), Luigi Pirandello
- Il sole e la luna (1965), Guglielmo Biraghi
- Epitaffo per George Dillon (1966), John Osborne and Anthony Creighton (Epitaph for George Dillon)
- Uno sguardo dal ponte (1967), Arthur Miller (A View from the Bridge)
- La bambolona (1968), Raf Vallone
- Il dio Kurt (1969), Alberto Moravia
- I parenti terribili (1969), Jean Cocteau (Les parents terribles)
- LSD-Lei, scusi, divorzierebbe? (1970), Carlo Maria Pensa
- Uno sporco egoista (1971), Francois Dorin
- Lulu (Lo spirito della terra – Il vaso di Pandora) (1972), Frank Wedekind (Lulu [Erdgeist-Die Büchse der Pandora])
- Le massacre à Paris (1972), Christopher Marlowe (The Massacre at Paris)
- Il Gabbiano (1973), Anton Cechov
- L'uomo che incontrò de stesso (1981), Luigi Antonelli
- La Venexiana (1981), Anonimo del Cinquecento
- La fiaccola sotto il moggio (1981), Gabriele d'Annunzio
- Ekaterina Ivanovna (1983), Leonid Andreev
- Il malinteso (1984), Albert Camus (Le malentendu)
- Romeo e Giulietta (1985), William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)
- A porte chiuse, da Sartre a Mishima (1986), di Jean-Paul Sartre e Yukio Mishima (Huis clos – Aoi – Hanjo)
- La città morta (1988), Gabriele D'Annunzio
- La nave (1988), Gabriele D'Annunzio
- I paraventi (1990), Jean Genet (Les paravents)
- Improvvisamente l'estate scorsa (1991), Tennessee Williams (Suddenly Last Summer)
- Più grandiose dimore (1993), Eugene O'Neill
- Così è (se vi pare) (1994), Luigi Pirandello
- Questa sera si recita a soggetto (1995), Luigi Pirandello
|1948||Lux Radio Theatre||The Miracle of the Bells|
Lux Radio Theatre broadcast "The Paradine Case" in a radio adaptation of the film on 9 May 1949, starring Joseph Cotten, with Alida Valli and Louis Jourdan reprising their roles.
This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2015)
- Adam Bernstein (2006-04-24). "'The Third Man' Actress Alida Valli, 84". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
- "VALLI, Alida in "Enciclopedia del Cinema"". www.treccani.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2021-10-19.
- Gundle, Stephen (2013). Mussolini's Dream Factory: Film Stardom in Fascist Italy. Berghahn Books. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-782-38245-4.
- Spoto, Donald (2012). Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies. Random House. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-448-16601-5.
- "Alida Valli Wants Her First Name Restored". Statesville Record And Landmark. January 22, 1951. p. 20. Retrieved July 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Adele Cambria, «Alida mi raccontava il cinema come una favola»L'ultimo intimo saluto all'attrice. Veltroni: volevamo organizzare una serata con i suoi film, ma se ne è andata prima Archived December 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, L'Unità, 25 April 2006.
- "Alida Valli To Try Stage". The Decatur Herald. January 3, 1956. p. 12. Retrieved July 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Lyman, Robert. The Longest Siege: Tobruk- The Battle that Saved North Africa 2009, p. 152.
- Giovanni Pesce. "Famiglia Pesce".
- Parsons, Louella O. (July 6, 1949). "Alida Valli Fails To Show Up In Court To Get Her Divorce". Lubbock Evening Journal. p. 18. Retrieved July 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Actress Has Son". Lubbock Morning Avalanche. March 2, 1950. p. 28. Retrieved July 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Lane, John Francis (2006-04-26). "Alida Valli: Italian film star idolised by Mussolini and betrayed by Harry Lime". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
- "(photo caption)". The Times Record. March 22, 1954. p. 1. Retrieved July 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- David Shiopman The Great Movie Stars, London: Macdonald, 1989, p.586
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 35 (2): 32–39. Spring 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alida Valli.|
- Alida Valli webpage
- film noir
- Istria on the Internet, Prominent Istrians
- Alida Valli at IMDb
- Alida Valli at the TCM Movie Database
- Alida Valli at Reel Classics
- Obituary in The Telegraph. April 24, 2006.
- Obituary in New York Times. April 25, 2006.
- André Soares (7 June 2006). "Alida Valli (1921–2006)". Alternative Film Guide. Retrieved 2007-03-09.
- "Alida Valli". filmreference.com. Archived from the original on 9 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- Photographs of Alida Valli
- Alida Valli at Find a Grave