Lisi on 18 March 2011
8 November 1936
|Died||18 December 2014
Cause of death
|Spouse(s)||Franco Pesci (1960–2013; his death)|
|Children||Corrado Pesci (b. 1962)|
Ancona-born Lisi began her film career in her teens. Discovered in Paris by two Neapolitan producers, Antonio Ferrigno and Ettore Pesce, she debuted in La corda d'acciaio (The line of steel, 1953). Initially, she did musical films, like E Napoli canta (Napoli sings, 1953) and the successful Questa è la vita (1954, with the popular Totò). Nonetheless, her beauty was more valued than her talent, as seen in Le diciottenni and Lo scapolo films of 1955. Yet she filled demanding roles, particularly in La Donna del Giorno (1956), Eva (1962), and the spectacle Romolo e Remo (1961).
In the late 1950s, Lisi did theater at Piccolo Teatro di Milano in I giacobini by Federico Zardi under the direction of Giorgio Strehler. During the 1960s, Lisi did comedies and participated in television dramas that were widely viewed in Italy. Lisi also promoted a toothpaste brand on television with a slogan that would become a catchphrase among Italians: "con quella bocca può dire ciò che vuole" (with such a mouth, she can say whatever she wants).
Hollywood producers sought a new Marilyn Monroe and so, Lisi debuted in Hollywood comedy as a blue-eyed blonde temptress opposite Jack Lemmon in How to Murder Your Wife (1965) and appeared with Tony Curtis in Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966). Lisi then starred with Frank Sinatra, in Assault on a Queen (1966), in La Ragazza e il Generale, co-starring with Rod Steiger, and in two films with Anthony Quinn, The Secret of Santa Vittoria, directed by Stanley Kramer, and the war drama The 25th Hour. She garnered attention for a photo of her 'shaving' her face that appeared on the March 1965 cover of Esquire magazine.
To overcome her typecasting playing seductresses, Lisi sought new types of roles, of evil women or of a lover in relationships of disparate age for example. In those years, she participated in Italian productions, in Casanova 70 and Le bambole (1965), Arabella (1967), and Le dolci signore (1968). Lisi also starred in The Birds, the Bees and the Italians (1965) which shared the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year.
In the early 1970s, she decided temporarily to attend to her husband Franco Pesci and their son, Corrado. Nonetheless, a career renaissance occurred soon for Lisi with a large list of productions, including Al di là del bene e del male (1977), Ernesto (1979), and La cicala (1980). For the film La Reine Margot (1994), Lisi portrayed a malevolent Catherine de' Medici and so she won both the César and Cannes Film Festival awards, along with a Silver Ribbon for Best supporting Actress. Since the late 1990s, Lisi made many successful dramatic productof television. In 2002, Lisi starred in her last film, Il più bel giorno della mia vita.
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A Brazilian rock band named Virna Lisi is named after her. The 1980s Argentinian band Sumo (led by Luca Prodan) made a song for her. The singer's brother is the actor Andrea Prodan, who appeared with her in the movie I ragazzi di via Panisperna (1988).
- Cenerentola (1961)
- Il caso Maurizius (1961)
- Una tragedia americana (1962)
- Christopher Columbus (1985)
- Uno di noi (1996)
- Desert of Fire (1997)
- Cristallo di rocca (1999)
- Le ali della vita (2000)
- Piccolo mondo antico (2001)
- Il bello delle donne (2001)
- Caterina e le sue figlie (2005-2010)
- L'onore e il rispetto (2006)
- "Virna Lisi" (in Italian). Rai Uno. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "Festival de Cannes: Queen Margot". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 27 27 August 2009. Check date values in:
- Virna Lisi at the Internet Movie Database
- Vivarelli, Nick (18 December 2014). "Italian Actress Virna Lisi Dies At 78". Variety.
- Virna Lisi at AllMovie
- Virna Lisi, at Celebirony.
- Virna Lisi, at ElCriticon (The critic, in Spanish)