The daughter of an Austrian military officer and stepdaughter of an Italian nobleman, Elissa Landi was privately educated in England and Canada. Her acting career commenced with the 1924 London stage production The Storm; two years later, she appeared in her first film. She came to Broadway to play Catherine Barclay in an unsuccessful staging of Hemingway's Farewell to Arms. Despite the failure of this production, Elissa was invited to come to Hollywood. She is best remembered for her ethereal, virtuous performance as the early-Christian heroine of DeMille's Sign of the Cross (1932), though she was even more effective as the leading lady in the historical satire The Warrior's Husband (1933). Her screen career came to an end in 1937, save for an unexpected return before the cameras in the 1943 war film Corregidor. Elissa Landi spent her last acting years on Broadway, devoting her spare time to writing poetry and novels; she died of cancer in 1948, at the age of 44.