Italian actress and world-renowned sex symbol Laura Antonelli is gone. She’s been found dead in her home in the outskirts of Rome at the relatively young age of 73. There’s no way to talk about the power Antonelli exerted as one of the most lusciously proportioned, bodaciously ta-ta’ed, hungered-for actresses of the early to late ’70s without sounding like a sexist dog (certainly in the eyes of the politically correct, femme-militant types). Most of the Italian-made movies she starred or co-starred in were light sexploitation junk, but during a three-year period from ’74 to ’77 Antonelli appeared in some quality-level stuff, most notably Luchino Visconti‘s L’Innocente (’76). Other standouts were Malizia, Lovers and Other Relatives, Till Marriage Do Us Part, Wifemistress and The Divine Nymph — all made when Antonelli, born in ’41, was in her early to mid 30s.
Giancarlo Giannini, Laura Antonelli in Luchino Visconti’s “L’Innocente (’76).
I distinctly recall sensing that legendary critic Andrew Sarris had gone to some effort to stifle his libidinal longings for Antonelli while reviewing her films, and how I always empathized with that effort.
Antonelli got hit with a cocaine rap of some kind in the early ’90s (when she was 50 or thereabouts) but the conviction was later overturned. I know she got fat when she hit her late 60s but I’d rather not think about that now. Antonelli was exquisite in her day. I only wish she’d made a few more good films, which might have happened if she’d learned English and tried to get into the American film community and ignite a few opportunities. We all have our prime time, our window of opportunity. The truth? Antonelli didn’t work it like she could have. She stayed in Italy and, in a sense, paid a certain price for that.