Italian actress Elsa Martinelli rated her own performances 'OK'

Elsa Martinelli in the 1965 movie, The 10th Victim.
Elsa Martinelli in the 1965 movie, The 10th Victim.PHOTO: NYTIMES

ROME • Elsa Martinelli, an Italian model-turned-actress whose Hollywood career included roles opposite Kirk Douglas and John Wayne, died on Saturday in Rome.

She was 82. Her daughter said the cause was cancer.

Martinelli's modelling career was on the upswing in 1955 when a photograph of her was spotted by Douglas' wife. He was producing The Indian Fighter, a western, and was seeking an actress to play the daughter of a Sioux chief.

In Hatari! (1962), she portrayed a photographer working with a group, led by Wayne, trapping African wildlife for sale to zoos.

Martinelli was born on Jan 30, 1935. Her modelling career took off in her mid-teens after she was spotted by designer Roberto Capucci.

In an acting career that moved between Europe and Hollywood and peaked in the 1960s, she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 1956 Berlin International Film Festival for the Italian comedy Donatella.

After the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland paid tribute to her in 2012, she revealed how she rated her screen performances.

"You say to yourself, 'She could have done this' or 'She could have done it that way'.

"Yet, mostly I say, 'She was OK'."

Directors she worked for included Orson Welles and Roger Vadim.

In 1957, she married Count Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito, but the marriage was annulled after several years.

In 1968, she married Willy Rizzo, a Paris Match photographer and furniture designer, who died in 2013. She also worked as an interior and fashion designer.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and several sisters.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'Actress rated her own performances 'OK''. Print Edition | Subscribe