Valentina Cortese (born 1 January 1923) is an Italian actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1975 for her performance in François Truffaut's Day for Night.
Born in Milan to a family from Stresa (Piedmont), Cortese married Richard Basehart, her co-star in The House on Telegraph Hill, in 1951, and had one son with him, the actor Jackie Basehart; they divorced in 1960. She never remarried. Jackie Basehart died in Milan in 2015, predeceasing Cortese.
She made her screen debut in Italians films in 1940, leading to her first internationally acclaimed roles in Riccardo Freda's 1948 Italian film Les Misérables with Marcello Mastroianni, in which she played both Fantine and Cosette, and the 1949 British film The Glass Mountain (1949), which led to a number of roles in American movies of the period, but continued to make movies in Europe with such directors as Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, and François Truffaut.
She signed a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1948. She starred in Malaya (1949), a Second World War movie about smuggling and guerrilla warfare against the Japanese with Spencer Tracy and James Stewart, Jules Dassin's Thieves' Highway (1949) with Richard Conte and Lee J. Cobb, The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) directed by Robert Wise, and co-starring Richard Basehart and William Lundigan, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's The Barefoot Contessa (1954), with Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien. In Europe she starred in Michelangelo Antonioni's Le Amiche (1955), Gérard Brach's The Boat on the Grass (1971), Terry Gilliam's British film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), and in Franco Zeffirelli projects such as the 1972 film Brother Sun, Sister Moon, his 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and the 1993 film Sparrow. Her final American film role was in When Time Ran Out (1980).