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Olivia Hussey

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Olivia Hussey
Hussey at the 2008 Cinema City Film Festival
Olivia Osuna

(1951-04-17) 17 April 1951 (age 73)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
NationalityBritish, Argentine
Alma materItalia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
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 a British-Argentine actress. Her awards 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 Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London.

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 and her roles in the horror productions Psycho IV: The Beginning and Stephen King's It (both 1990) earned her the label of scream queen.[1][2][3]

Hussey 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 also has worked as a voice actress, providing voice roles in Star Wars video games including Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998), Star Wars: Force Commander (2000), and Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011).

Early life


Hussey was born Olivia Osuna on 17 April 1951[4] in Buenos Aires, Argentina,[5] the first child of Argentine opera singer Andrés Osuna (stage name Osvaldo Ribó), and Joy (née Hussey), a legal secretary from England.[6] Her parents were Roman Catholics, and she was raised in that denomination.[7] 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 but never divorced.

Hussey was fascinated by acting from a young age, and as a child, would dress up as a nun.[8] At age seven, she moved with her mother and younger brother to London.[6] There, Hussey was accepted into the Italia Conti Academy drama school, which she attended for five years, taking modeling and walk-on parts to help pay her fees.[9] At 13, she began acting professionally on stage, assuming her mother's maiden name as her stage name. In 1964, she appeared in an episode of the television series Drama, followed by minor roles in two films the following year: The Battle of the Villa Fiorita and Cup Fever.[10] [6][11]



Breakthrough with Romeo and Juliet

Hussey in 1968

Hussey appeared in a West End production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, playing Jenny opposite Vanessa Redgrave.[12] Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli noticed her performance because "she was the only choice mature enough with experience and natural beauty to play Juliet while still looking 14."[13] She was chosen out of 500 actresses to star in Zeffirelli's film, opposite 16-year-old Leonard Whiting's Romeo.[14][15] Her performance won her a special David di Donatello Award and the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actress in 1969.[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 recalled that she had "mumbled something about being interested in Anne of the Thousand Days" but that she "couldn't see herself with Wayne", concluding that this "adolescent and opinionated" remark ended her professional relationship with Wallis, who immediately withdrew his offer.[18]

Nude scene controversy


In an August 2018 interview for Fox News to promote the release of her autobiography Girl on the Balcony, Hussey discussed filming the controversial nude scene: "We shot it at the end of the film. So by that time...we've become one big family. It wasn't that big of a deal. And Leonard wasn't shy at all! In the middle of shooting I just completely forgot I didn't have clothes on."[19][20] In another 2018 interview with Variety, Hussey defended the nude scene, saying, "Nobody my age had done that before," adding that Zeffirelli shot it tastefully. "It was needed for the film. Everyone thinks they were so young they didn't realize what they were doing. But we were very aware. We both came from drama schools and when you work you take your work very seriously."[21][22]

However, on 30 December 2022, Hussey and Leonard Whiting filed a $500 million lawsuit against Paramount Pictures for sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and fraud, regarding the scene. In their court filing, the two actors stated that they had suffered emotional damage and mental anguish for decades.[23][24] The complainants stated that director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, initially said they would wear flesh-coloured undergarments and be positioned in a way that would not show nudity, but that Whiting's bare buttocks and Hussey's bare breasts are nonetheless briefly shown during the scene, in violation of California state and federal laws against indecency and the exploitation of children.[25]

The case was dismissed in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 25, 2023.[26]

Continued screen roles and voice work

Hussey in 1979

In 1971, she appeared in the British drama All the Right Noises, followed by The Summertime Killer (1972),[10] and the musical Lost Horizon.[27] In 1974, she played the lead 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).[28] In 1978, she played Rosalie Otterbourne in Death on the Nile with Peter Ustinov,[5] and appeared in The Cat and the Canary (1979).[29] She also starred as Marit in the Japanese film Virus (1980),[30] 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).[31]

In 1987, Hussey, along with several well-known actors, made a cameo appearance in a clip for the Michael Jackson video Liberian Girl.[32] In 1990, Hussey played Norma Bates, the mother of Norman Bates, in Psycho IV: The Beginning, a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960),[33][34] and appeared in the miniseries It, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel.[35]

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 to portray the role of Mother Teresa of Calcutta ever since she finished her role as the Virgin Mary in Jesus of Nazareth.[36] 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.[37]

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)[38] and was also in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011) as Jedi Master Yuon Par.[39] She also lent her voice to Star Wars: Force Commander in 2000.

Personal life


Hussey has agoraphobia, which was aggravated by the fame she achieved after Romeo and Juliet.[6]

She briefly dated Leonard Whiting during 1968. They have remained friends ever since, reportedly communicating "at least once every 10 days."[40]

Hussey also dated actor Christopher Jones in 1968 but ended the relationship because, she says, he was physically abusive toward her. The following year, Hussey was allegedly attacked and raped by Jones in the house Roman Polanski had shared with his wife Sharon Tate, weeks after Tate's death. When Hussey discovered that she was pregnant as a result, she had an abortion.[40][41]

In 1971, she married Dean Paul Martin, the son of Dean Martin, on her twentieth birthday. They had one son, writer and actor Alexander Gunther Martin (born 1973). They divorced in 1978 but remained friends.[42] Her ex-husband died in 1987, when the National Guard F-4 Phantom jet fighter he was piloting unaccountably crashed.[43]

From 1980 until their 1989 divorce, Hussey was married to Japanese singer Akira Fuse. They had one son, Maximillian Hussey Fuse (born 1983).[44]

In 1991, she married American musician David Glen Eisley, the son of actor Anthony Eisley. They have one daughter, actress India Eisley (born 1993).

Hussey was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008,[45] and underwent a double mastectomy.[45] After being in remission for nearly a decade, the breast cancer returned in 2018 when a small tumour was discovered growing between her heart and lungs.[45] She opted to undergo radiation and chemotherapy stating: "I'd refused chemotherapy and radiation treatment 10 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."[45]

Hussey's memoir, The Girl on the Balcony: Olivia Hussey Finds Life After Romeo and Juliet, was published on 31 July 2018.[46]




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 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

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


Year Title Role Location Ref.
1966 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Jenny Wyndham's Theatre [47]


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