Monica Vitti: Italian Star, Antonioni’s Muse, Dies at 90

The star of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961) died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.


Monica Vitti, an Italian cinema icon and muse to legendary director Michelangelo Antonioni, has died. She was 90.

Italian news agency ANSA reported the news on Wednesday, citing a Twitter post by the former mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni.

Agence France-Presse later reported that the Italian culture ministry has confirmed her death, calling her “an icon best known for her starring roles in films by Michelangelo Antonioni.”

Best known for her roles in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly Antonioni collaborations L’Avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961), Vitti died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Italian media reported Wednesday.

Italian director and politician Walter Veltroni confirmed her death via Twitter on behalf of Vitti’s longterm partner, Roberto Russo.

Veltroni tweeted: “Roberto Russo, her companion in these years, asks me to communicate that Monica Vitti is no more. I do so with great grief, affection, and nostalgia”.

Born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli in Rome in 1931, Vitti shot to fame with her starring role in Antoninoni’s L’Avventura, playing a woman who starts up a relationship with the lover of her missing girlfriend. Her cool, detached performance wowed audiences and critics, and she became a muse for Antonioni, appearing in several of his films, including La Noche (1961) alongside Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni, and Red Desert (1964) with Richard Harris.

Vitti appeared in several international productions, including James Bond spoof Modesty Blaise (1966) alongside Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde, and the comedy On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who… (1967) with Tony Curtis.

Later, Vitti became the on-screen partner of great comic actor Alberto Sordi, making several films together, including Polvere di stelle (1973) and I Know That You Know That I Know (1982).

She won five David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress, Italy’s equivalent of the Oscar, as well as a career Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in 1995. Her performance in L’Avventura secured her a BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Actress in 1961.

Vitti had been absent from public life due to Alzheimer’s since 2001.