Clara Calamai

Clara Calamai (7 September 1909 – 21 September 1998) was an Italian actress.

Clara Calamai
Calamai in The Jester's Supper (1942)
Born(1909-09-07)7 September 1909
Died21 September 1998(1998-09-21) (aged 89)
Rimini, Italy
Other namesClara Mais
SpouseLeonardo Bonzi (19 May 1945 - 9 November 1959) (annulled)

She was one of the most famous and popular Italian actresses in the 1930s and 1940s, sharing the limelight with actresses such as Alida Valli, Valentina Cortese, and rivals, Doris Duranti, Luisa Ferida and Isa Miranda. She was a charming and versatile actress who starred in both dramas and comedies of the telefoni bianchi style.


Calamai's first acting role was in the 1938 war film Pietro Micca, directed by Aldo Vergano.

In The Jester's Supper (1942) an adaptation of a Sem Benelli's work, directed by Alessandro Blasetti) Calamai caused a sensation by appearing in a very brief topless scene. The scene is commonly credited with being the first time that an actress had appeared topless in an Italian sound film,[1][2] although Vittoria Carpi showed a bare breast for a moment in the 1941 film La corona di ferro (The Iron Crown), which was also directed by Blasetti. Calamai stated in a later interview that the original script did not have the character revealing herself this way and did not want to do the scene, but felt compelled by the director to do it and gave in when she was promised a closed set.[2] Nevertheless, many people reportedly saw the film many times because of the topless scene.

Her most remembered role was in the film Luchino Visconti's Ossessione (1943), in which she played Giovanna, the ill-fated female protagonist.[3]

Calamai was offered the role in L'adultera (The Adulteress, 1946, directed by Duilio Coletti), after Anna Magnani had to turn it down, and Calamai was awarded the Nastro d'Argento (Silver Ribbon) in 1946 for best actress for her performance in the film.

She played a prostitute in Luchino Visconti's Le notti bianche (1957) and appeared in Le streghe (1967).

After years of retirement, she returned in 1975 to appear in the horror film Profondo rosso (Deep Red, directed by Dario Argento) as the eccentric matriarch, Marta.

Personal lifeEdit

On 19 May 1945 she married explorer, and documentary film maker Count Leonardo Bonzi with whom she had two daughters. The marriage was annulled in November 1959, and she lived with Captain of Aviation Valerio Andreoni. Calamai died of a stroke in Rimini on 21 September 1998.

Partial filmographyEdit


  1. ^ Il Mereghetti - Dizionario dei Film 2008, p. 556
  2. ^ a b Forgacs, David (2002). "Sex in the Cinema". In Reich, Jacqueline; Garofalo, Piero (eds.). Re-viewing Fascism: Italian Cinema, 1922-1943. Indiana University Press. pp. 159–61. ISBN 0-253-34045-4.
  3. ^ "The Dying Diva: Violent Ends for Clara Calamai in Ossessione and Profondo Rosso". Forum Italicum: A Journal of Italian Studies. 42 (2): 296–312. 2008. doi:10.1177/001458580804200204. S2CID 164517587. Retrieved 29 October 2020.

External linksEdit