Born in Italy, Alida Valli (often billed simply as Valli) was the daughter of an Austrian journalist. Possessed of a haunting beauty even at an early age, Valli began her European film career when she was 15, after brief formal training. Though few of her Italian starring films have stood the test of time, she remained popular throughout the early 1940s. When she refused to make any more films for Italy's fascist regime, she had to virtually go into hiding to avoid arrest and execution (ironically, her mother was shot as a collaborator by anti-fascists in 1945). After the war, Valli and her then-husband, composer Oscar de Mejo, came to Hollywood at the invitation of producer David O. Selznick. Signed to a contract, she spent most of her Selznick years on loanouts, starring in such trivialities as Miracle of the Bells (1947). Her best work during this period included her portrayal of an accused murderess in Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947), and her unforgettable portrayal of Anna Schmidt (made even more unforgettable by her uncompromising final scene) in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949). Her career temporarily stalled by an infamous sex-drug-murder scandal in 1954, Valli returned to the screen in a progression of strong, well-defined character parts, often playing a worldly-wise adventuress of ambivalent sexual tastes.