Olivia Hussey

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Olivia Hussey
Olivia Hussey ca 1974 crop.jpg
Hussey c. 1974
Olivia Osuna

(1951-04-17) 17 April 1951 (age 71)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Years active1964–present
(m. 1971; div. 1978)

(m. 1980; div. 1989)

(m. 1991)
Children3, including India Eisley

Olivia Hussey (born Olivia Osuna; 17 April 1951) is an English film, stage, and television actress. Her accolades include a Golden Globe Award and a David di Donatello Award. The daughter of Argentine opera singer Andrés Osuna, Hussey was born in Buenos Aires but spent most of her early life in her mother's native England. She aspired to become an actress at a young age and studied drama for five years at London's Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

Hussey began acting professionally as an adolescent. She appeared in a 1966 London production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, opposite Vanessa Redgrave; this led to her being scouted for the role of Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Hussey received widespread acclaim and international recognition for her performance.

In 1974, she appeared as the lead character Jess Bradford in the cult slasher film Black Christmas. This role and her subsequent horror films earned her the title of scream queen.[1][2][3] She reunited with Zeffirelli in the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977) as Mary and appeared in John Guillermin's Agatha Christie adaptation Death on the Nile (1978). She appeared in several international productions throughout the 1980s, including the Japanese production Virus (1980) and the Australian dystopian action film Turkey Shoot (1982). She appeared in two made-for-television horror productions: Psycho IV: The Beginning and Stephen King's It, both first screened in 1990.

In addition to screen acting, Hussey has worked as a voice actress, providing voice roles in multiple Star Wars video games, including Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Star Wars: Force Commander, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Early life[edit]

Hussey was born Olivia Osuna on 17 April 1951[4] in Buenos Aires, Argentina,[5] the first child of Argentine opera singer Andrés Osuna (who performed under the stage name Osvaldo Ribó), and Joy (née Hussey), a legal secretary originally from England.[6] Her parents were both Roman Catholics, and she was raised in that denomination.[7] "My mother was a devout Catholic," Hussey recalled. "I grew up with a mini-altar at home that she had; a candle was always alight on it. She always had a great love for God, and she instilled that in me."[7] When Hussey was two years old, her parents separated.

Hussey was fascinated by acting from a young age, and as a child, would dress herself and pretend to be a nun.[8] At the age of seven, she moved with her mother and younger brother to London, where she spent the remainder of her early life.[6] There, Hussey's mother enrolled her in the Italia Conti Academy drama school, which she attended for five years.[9] At 13, she began acting professionally on the stage.[6]


1968–1969: Career beginnings and Romeo and Juliet[edit]

Assuming her mother's maiden name as her stage name, Hussey appeared on the London stage in a West End production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, playing the role of Jenny opposite Vanessa Redgrave.[10] During the run of this play, Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli noticed her because "she was the only choice mature enough with experience and natural beauty to play Juliet while still looking 14."[11] At 15,[12] she was chosen out of 500 actresses to star as Juliet in Zeffirelli's film version of Romeo and Juliet (1968), opposite 16-year-old Leonard Whiting's Romeo.[13][14] Prior to her role in Romeo and Juliet, she had appeared in minor roles in two films: The Battle of the Villa Fiorita and Cup Fever (both 1965), and an episode of the television series Drama (1964).[15] In 1969, she won a special David di Donatello Award and the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actress for her performance in Romeo and Juliet.[16]

After the success of Romeo and Juliet, Hollywood producer Hal B. Wallis offered her the title role in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) and the co-starring role with John Wayne in True Grit (1969).[17] In her 2018 memoir Hussey stated that she had "mumbled something about being interested in "Anne of the Thousand Days" but added that she "couldn't see herself with Wayne". She claims that this "adolescent and opinionated" remark inevitably ended her professional relationship with Wallis, and he immediately withdrew his offer from her. "It had taken me less than a minute to talk my way out of it", Hussey stated. [18]

1970–2000: Black Christmas and continued acting[edit]

Hussey in 1979

In 1971, she appeared in the British drama All the Right Noises, followed by the crime film The Summertime Killer (1972),[15] and the musical Lost Horizon (1973), opposite Liv Ullmann, John Gielgud, and Sally Kellerman.[19] In 1974, she played the leading role of Jess Bradford in the Canadian horror film Black Christmas (1974), which became influential as a forerunner of the slasher film genre of horror films. She played Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the 1977 television production of Jesus of Nazareth (her second work for director Zeffirelli).[20] In 1978, she played Rosalie Otterbourne in Death on the Nile with Peter Ustinov,[5] and appeared in The Cat and the Canary (1979).[21] She also starred as Marit in the Japanese film Virus (1980),[22] and played Rebecca of York in the 1982 remake of Ivanhoe (1982); the same year, she had a lead role in the Australian horror film Turkey Shoot (1982).[23]

In 1987, Hussey appeared in a clip for the Michael Jackson video Liberian Girl, among others, who also included Steven Spielberg, John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Whoopi Goldberg, Lou Ferrigno, and Billy Dee Williams.[24] In 1990, Hussey appeared in two horror projects, playing Norma Bates, the mother of Norman Bates, in Psycho IV: The Beginning, a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960),[25][26] and in the miniseries It, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel.[27]

2000–present: Later films and voice work[edit]

Hussey at the 2008 Cinema City Film Festival

Hussey played the lead in Mother Teresa of Calcutta (2003), a biographical film about Mother Teresa, for which she was presented with a Character & Morality in Entertainment Award on 12 May 2007 in Hollywood.[5] She stated in an interview that it had been her dream and wish to portray the role of Mother Teresa of Calcutta since she finished her role as the Virgin Mary in Jesus of Nazareth.[28] Hussey and Leonard Whiting reunited as on-screen partners in the film Social Suicide (2015), the only film that they both appeared in since Romeo and Juliet (1968). In the project, Hussey's daughter, actress India Eisley, played their fictional daughter, Julia Coulson.[29]

Hussey has also worked as a voice actress, and was nominated for "Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Television Production" at the Annie Awards for her work in the DC animated universe, as Talia, daughter of Ra's al Ghul. She voiced the character of Kasan Moor in the PC/Nintendo 64 game, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998)[30] and was also in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011) as Jedi Master Yuon Par.[31] She also lent her voice to Star Wars: Force Commander in 2000.

Personal life[edit]

Hussey quit acting for two years following the success of Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, due to an ongoing struggle with agoraphobia.[6] As teenagers, she and Whiting dated for a brief period following the production of the film and have remained friends since, reportedly speaking "at least once every ten days."[32]

In 1971, she married actor Dean Paul Martin, the son of singer Dean Martin, on the day of her twentieth birthday. They had a son, Alexander Gunther Martin (who became an actor), in 1973, before divorcing in 1978.[33] Dean Paul Martin died in 1987, when his National Guard F-4 Phantom jet fighter crashed in California's San Bernardino Mountains during a snowstorm.[34]

In 1980, Hussey married Japanese singer Akira Fuse in two ceremonies: one at home in Los Angeles, and a second, an Indian wedding in Miami. She gave birth to their son Max in 1983 and divorced Fuse in 1989. In 1991, she married the American rock musician David Glen Eisley, the son of an actor Anthony Eisley. In October 1993, she gave birth to their daughter, India Eisley, also an actress.

Hussey was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.[35] Rather than pursuing chemotherapy or radiation, she underwent a double mastectomy to treat the cancer.[35] After being in remission for nearly a decade, Hussey learned in 2018 that the breast cancer had returned when a small tumour was discovered growing between her heart and lungs.[35] She opted to use radiation and chemotherapy to treat the tumour, stating: "I'd refused chemotherapy and radiation treatment ten years ago, wanting to avoid those poisons, but last year I had no choice, and they saved my life. The tumour shrank, I'm hoping to the size of a pea, and I'm doing well now. I'm healthy and happy."[35]

Hussey's memoir, The Girl on the Balcony: Olivia Hussey Finds Life After Romeo and Juliet, was released on 31 July 2018.[36]



Year Title Role Notes
1965 The Battle of the Villa Fiorita Donna
1965 Cup Fever Jinny
1968 Romeo and Juliet Juliet
1971 All the Right Noises Val
1971 H-Bomb Erica
1972 The Summertime Killer Tania Scarlotti
1973 Lost Horizon Maria
1974 Black Christmas Jess Bradford
1978 Death on the Nile Rosalie Otterbourne
1979 The Cat and the Canary Cicily Young
1980 Virus Marit
1980 The Man with Bogart's Face Elsa
1982 Turkey Shoot Chris Walters
1987 Distortions Amy Marks
1989 The Jeweller's Shop Thérèse
1990 Undeclared War Rebecca Eche
1993 Quest of the Delta Knights The Mannerjay
1994 Save Me Gail
1995 Ice Cream Man Nurse Wharton
1995 Bad English I: Tales of a Son of a Brit
1996 The Lord Protector: The Dark Mist Voice of the Ancients (Voice)
1998 The Gardener Mrs. Carter
1998 Shame, Shame, Shame Therapist
2000 Bloody Proof Laura
2001 Island Prey Catherine Gaits
2003 Mother Teresa Mother Teresa
2005 Headspace Dr. Karen Murphy
2006 Seven Days of Grace Jewel
2007 Tortilla Heaven Petra
2008 Three Priests Rachel
2008 I Am Somebody: No Chance in Hell Mrs. Duncan
2015 Social Suicide Julia's Mother


Year Title Role Notes
1964 Drama 61-67 Mrs. Ken's daughter Episode: "Studio '64 – The Crunch"
1977 Jesus of Nazareth Mary, mother of Jesus Miniseries
1978 The Bastard Alicia Miniseries
1978 The Pirate Leila Television film
1979 The Thirteenth Day: The Story of Esther Esther Television film
1982 Ivanhoe Rebecca Television film
1984 The Last Days of Pompeii Ione Miniseries
1984 Murder, She Wrote Kitty Trumbull Episode: "Sing a Song of Murder"
1985 The Corsican Brothers Annamarie de Guidice Television film
1990 Psycho IV: The Beginning Norma Bates Television film
1990 It Audra Phillips Denbrough Miniseries
1994 Lonesome Dove: The Series Olivia Jessup 3 episodes
1996 Dead Man's Island Rosie, the housemaid Television film
1997 Boy Meets World Prudence Curtis Episode: "A Long Walk To Pittsburgh (Part 2)"
1998 Pinky and the Brain Queen (Voice) 2 episodes
1999 Superman: The Animated Series Talia (Voice) Episode: "The Demon Reborn"
2000 Batman Beyond "Talia" (Voice) Episode: "Out of the Past"
2003 Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother Teresa Television film

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
1998 Star Wars: Rogue Squadron Kasan Moor
2000 Star Wars: Force Commander AT-AA Driver, Abridon Refugee 2
2011 Star Wars: The Old Republic Jedi Master Yuon Par

Stage credits[edit]

Year Title Role Location Ref.
1966 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Jenny Wyndham's Theatre [37]


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