Marta Abba

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Marta Abba
Born25 June 1900
Milan, Italy
Died24 June 1988(1988-06-24) (aged 87)

Marta Abba (25 June 1900 in Milan, Italy – 24 June 1988 in Milan)[1] was an Italian actress.

Life and career[edit]

She was the sister of another actress, Cele Abba. After their meeting in 1925 and until his death in 1936, Marta Abba was the stimulus to the playwright Luigi Pirandello's creativity. She was an aspiring young 25-year-old actress when she met the 58-year-old playwright, whose wife had been confined to a mental asylum in 1919. From their correspondence it comes out how she not only inspired him but she also gave the writer confidence in his work. Their relationship was complex but contributed much to the Italian theatre.

Pirandello was obsessive in pursuit of what could be presumed to have remained an unconsummated affair. Marta was the true great actress for whom he had been waiting after his earlier bitter disappointment with Eleonora Duse. Luigi Pirandello's and Marta Abba's letters to each other have been translated into English. Marta Abba and Pirandello teamed up in 1925, and she appeared in many of his productions at the Rome Arts Theater. In 1930, Abba founded her own theatrical company and specialized in staging the works of Pirandello and other European playwrights like George Bernard Shaw, Gabriele d'Annunzio and Carlo Goldoni under the direction of prestigious directors like Max Reinhardt and Guido Salvini.

Her Broadway theatre debut was in the play Tovarich at the Plymouth Theatre, (10/15/1936 - circa. 8/1937) in the role of Grand Duchess Tatiana Petrovna. Marta Abba's screen début in Broadway was in Loyalty of Love, in 1937. In January 1938 she married a wealthy Cleveland polo player, Severance Allen Millikin and settled down in Cleveland, Ohio until 1952, when she divorced and returned to Italy. The last years of her life she suffered from paresis and had to use a wheelchair. She died, at 87, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

She published her autobiography in Italian, La mia vita di attrice.

Selected filmography[edit]

Selected plays[edit]

Some of the plays written by Luigi Pirandello in which Marta Abba acted:

  • The New Colony (La Nuova Colonia)
  • As You Desire Me (Come tu mi vuoi)
  • Finding Oneself (Trovarsi)
  • The Wives' Friend (L'Amica delle Mogli)
  • Diana and Tuda (Diana e La Tuda)
  • You Don't Know How (Non Si Sa Come)


  1. ^ Pirandello, Luigi (2017-03-14). Pirandello's Love Letters to Marta Abba. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400887286.

Further reading[edit]

  1. Caro maestro... lettere a Luigi Pirandello (1926–1936), edizioni Mursia edited by Pietro Frassica, Milan, (1994) (in Italian containing 280 letters Marta Abba wrote to Luigi Pirandello) ISBN 88-425-1250-8
  2. Lettere di Luigi Pirandello a Marta Abba, edizione Mondadori, collana I Meridiani (1995) (in Italian containing 560 letters Luigi Pirandello wrote to Marta Abba) ISBN 8804393793
  3. Pirandello and His muse, The Plays for Marta Abba, by Daniela Bini, University Press of Florida 1998 ISBN 0-8130-1548-0
  4. Pirandello's love letters to Marta Abba, edited and translated by Benito Ortolani (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994).ISBN 0691034990

External links[edit]

Review of Marta Abba's film debut [1]