Valentina Cortese, an Italian post-war screen diva, has passed away, aged ninety-six. She appeared in more than fifty films in her half-century career, which began when she was sixteen. She initially achieved stardom in Europe in an Italian version of Les Misérables (1948).
Born in Milan, Lombardy, Italy, in 1923, Cortese became a popular muse for leading Italian directors including Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and Franco Zeffirelli. She gained particular praise in 1973 playing a fading alcoholic movie star in Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night, a movie about making movies.
Cortese’s horror/thriller genre appearances included Mario Bava’s landmark giallo Evil Eye (1962), Luigi Bazzoni’s The Possessed (1965), Riccardo Freda’s The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (1971), Lucio Fulci’s comedy Dracula in the Provinces (1975), and Ring of Darkness (1978).