ROME – Monica Vitti, a versatile actress who starred in Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’Avventura” and was hailed as the “Queen of Italian Cinema,” died Wednesday in Rome. She was 90.
Her death was announced by filmmaker Walter Veltroni, The New York Times reported.
“Goodbye to the queen of Italian cinema,” Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture minister, wrote in a news release.
Vitti was already an established stage star in Italy in 1957 when she met Antonioni, the Times reported.
She was best known for her starring roles in “L’Avventura,” “La Notte,” “L’Eclisse” (“Eclipse”) and “Red Desert,” all films directed by Antonioni, her lover at that time, according to The Associated Press.
“L’Avventura” won her international praise for her role as an icy cool woman drifting into a relationship with the lover of her missing girlfriend, the AP reported. In “Red Desert,” she plays a woman suffering from a deep neurosis as she struggles to deal with a changing industrial world.
The official screening of “L’Avventura” at the 1960 Cannes International Film Festival ended with a chorus of boos from the audience, the Times reported.
Antonioni thought his career was over, and Vitti fled the auditorium in tears, the newspaper reported. But several influential filmmakers, led by Roberto Rossellini, defended the film, which would win the festival’s Special Jury Prize, according to the Times.
The film made Vitti an international star, and in 1962 the British film magazine Sight & Sound declared it the second-best movie ever made, after “Citizen Kane.”
Vitti’s blonde hair and blue eyes set her apart from other Mediterranean screen stars, such as the brown-haired Sophia Loren, the Times reported.
Vitti starred in the 1966 spy satire “Modesty Blaise,” but her performance was panned, according to the newspaper.
Vitti, was born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli in Rome on Nov. 3, 1931, the third child and only daughter of Angelo and Adele (Vittilia) Ceciarelli, according to the Times. She shortened her mother’s maiden name to use as her stage name.
She studied as an actor in Rome’s National Academy of Dramatic Arts, according to the AP. Her first film role was in 1954′s “Ridere! Ridere! Ridere!” (“Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!”), and her final appearance came in the 1989 film, “Scandalo Segreto,” which she also wrote and directed.
Antonioni suffered a stroke and died in in 2007. Vitt’s last public appearance was in 2002 for the premiere of “Notre Dame de Paris,” according to the AP.