30 January 2016

Elsa Martinelli – actress

Tuscan beauty was spotted by Kirk Douglas

The actress Elsa Martinelli in a 1965 appearance in the TV show The Rogues
The actress Elsa Martinelli in a 1965
appearance in the TV show The Rogues
Actress and former model Elsa Martinelli was born Elisa Tia on this day in 1935 in Grosseto.

She moved to Rome with her family as a teenager and was discovered by designer Roberto Capucci in 1953 while working as a barmaid in the city.

Her stunning looks helped her to become a successful fashion model and she eventually began playing small parts in films.

As Elsa Martinelli she appeared in Claude Autant-Lara’s Le Rouge et Le Noir in 1954.

Her first important role came a year later when Kirk Douglas is said to have seen her on a magazine cover and told his production company to hire her to appear opposite him in the film, The Indian Fighter.

In 1956 she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival for playing the title role in Mario Monicelli’s Donatella.

Martinelli married Count Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito and they had a daughter, Cristiana, in 1958.

Ten years later, after she had split up with her first husband, Martinelli married photographer and furniture designer Willy Rizzo.

In the 1950s and 1960s she attended lavish parties and events in Rome with celebrities such as Anita Ekberg, Maria Callas, Sophia Loren, Carlo Ponti and Harold Robbins.

More reading: Federico Fellini, film director, born 20 January, 1920

Martinelli went on to have a long string of film and television credits to her name.

She appeared in the 1992 comedy film Once Upon a Time and most recently in the television series, Orgoglio, in 2005.

The cathedral in Grossetto, Tuscany, birthplace of Elsa Martinelli
The Cathedral in Grosseto
Photo by Waugsberg (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Travel tip:

Grosseto, where Elsa Martinelli was born and lived as a child, is in the centre of Tuscany, about 14 kilometers from the sea and surrounded by walls commissioned by Francesco I de Medici in the 16th century, There is a 13th century Cathedral with a façade of black and white marble as well as many beautiful old palaces in the centre of the city.

Travel tip:

Rome in the late 1950s and early 1960s was considered the most desirable place in the world in which to party. The economy was booming, designers, such as Roberto Capucci, had made the city synonymous with the word glamour and American directors flocked to make their films at Cinecittà, the studio complex south of the city. This golden era is epitomised by Federico Fellini’s film La dolce vita (The Sweet Life), featuring Marcello Mastroianni as a reporter who follows every move of the celebrities who frequent Rome’s exclusive nightclubs and live in the city’s historic, aristocratic villas.


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