Monica Vitti, ’60s Italian movie star, dead at 90

Monica Vitti, the Italian screen icon known for a string of 1960s classics, died Wednesday at 90, according to reports in Italy.

The news was conveyed by writer, director and politician Walter Veltroni on behalf of Vitti’s husband, Roberto Russo:

The feted actress, best known for movies including “L’Avventura” (1960), “Red Desert” (1964), “L’Eclisse” (1962) and “La Notte” (1961), had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for two decades.

Monica Vitti is hailed as a film icon in Italy.

Monica Vitti is hailed as a film icon in Italy.
(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli on November 3, 1931, in Rome, Vitti acted in amateur productions as a teenager then trained at Rome’s National Academy of Dramatic Arts.


The actress shot to global fame following spectacular collaborations with legendary director Michelangelo Antonioni in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Vitti starred in “L’Avventura” as a detached and cool protagonist drifting into a relationship with the lover of her missing girlfriend. She went on to star in “La Notte” with Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni and “L’Eclisse” with Alain Delon. Each film is considered a classic in its own right.

After working with Antonioni, Vitti changed focus and began making comedies, working with director Mario Monicelli on a number of films.

Monica Vitti made her mark as an actress in the '60s.

Monica Vitti made her mark as an actress in the ’60s.
(Photo by Jean-Louis SWINERS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

She went on to star with Marcello Mastroianni in Ettore Scola’s rom-com “The Pizza Triangle,” made multiple films with actor and director Alberto Sordi, and played a key part in Luis Bunuel’s “The Phantom Of Liberty.” She made two films with Claudia Cardinale in the mid ’70s.

Vitti’s first English-language film was the 1966 pic “Modesty Blaise” by Joseph Losey and her second was the 1979 movie “An Almost Perfect Affair” with Keith Carradine.

Her last features were 1990 movie “Secret Scandal” with Elliott Gould, which she also directed, and 1992 Italian TV movie “Ma Tu Mi Vuoi Bene?” The actress retreated from acting soon after given the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Monica Vitti is survived by her husband Roberto Russo.

Monica Vitti is survived by her husband Roberto Russo.
(Photo by Rainer Adolph/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Vitti won five David Di Donatello Awards for Best Actress, seven Italian Golden Globes, the Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Award and was BAFTA nominated.

Over her career, the heralded actress starred opposite actors including Mastroianni, Delon, Richard Harris, Terence Stamp, Michael Caine, Tony Curtis and Dirk Bogarde.

In 2000, Vitti married Italian pianist and composer Roberto Russo, with whom she had been in a relationship since 1973.

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