Elsa Martinelli

Active - 1955 - 1992  |   Born - Jan 30, 1935 in Grosseto, Italy  |   Died - Jul 8, 2017 in Rome, Italy  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Adventure, Crime

Share on

The official story was that Italian actress Elsa Martinelli was discovered for movies when Kirk Douglas spotted her on a 1954 magazine cover. Actually, Martinelli had been playing bits in Italian films since 1950, and had been a professional model since her early teens. Her first and only screen appearance while under contract to Douglas' Bryna Productions was The Indian Fighter (1955). The film should have made her a star, but (at least according to Douglas) Martinelli exercised nothing but bad judgment thereafter, taking parts that exploited her physical attributes but allowed her acting skills to atrophy. Finally, Douglas threw in the towel, telling Martinelli that she'd have to pay him to work for Bryna again. With such notable exceptions as Orson Welles' The Trial, Martinelli never had a part as good as her Native American heroine in Indian Fighter. She retired from filmmaking in the mid-1980s, making an unheralded return appearance in the inconsequential all-star comedy Once Upon a Crime. She is the mother of actress Cristiana Mancinelli. Marinelli died in 2017, at age 82.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography