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'Queen of Italian cinema' Monica Vitti dies at 90

Published 2nd February 2022
Monica Vitti in "Modesty Blaise" (1966)
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock
'Queen of Italian cinema' Monica Vitti dies at 90
Written by Livia BorgheseHannah Ryan, CNN
Monica Vitti -- a revered star of Italian cinema -- has died at the age of 90, according to Italian politician and family friend Walter Veltroni, who made the announcement on Twitter.
"Roberto Russo, her life companion for many years, asked me to announce that Monica Vitti is no longer here. I do this with pain, affection and regret," Veltroni wrote on Wednesday.
Vitti was well-known for her work with some of Italy and Europe's most influential filmmakers throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Outside of her home country, she was perhaps most famous for her performances in Michelangelo Antonioni's international breakthrough trilogy: "L'Avventura," "La Notte" and "L'Eclisse." She would later return to work with Antonioni once again on "The Mystery of Oberwald" in 1980.
Vitti -- born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli on November 3, 1931 in Rome -- worked with many of the giants of cinematic history, including Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel and Italian master Ettore Scola, during a career spanning more than 30 years.
Monica Vitti and director Michelangelo Antonioni at the Venice Film Festival in September 1962
Monica Vitti and director Michelangelo Antonioni at the Venice Film Festival in September 1962 Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Italian prime minister Mario Draghi expressed his "deep grief" for the death of Vitti, describing her as an "actress of great irony and extraordinary talent that has conquered generations of Italians with her spirit, her skills, her beauty.
"You have given prestige to Italian cinema in the world," he said, while offering condolences to her husband and loved ones.
"Goodbye Monica Vitti, goodbye to the Queen of Italian cinema. Today is a truly sad day, a great artist, and a great Italian has vanished," Italy's culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said.
Vitti shared the silver screen with some of Italy's most notable actors, including Alberto Sordi and Marcello Mastroianni.
Her performances garnered numerous awards, including Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival in 1984 and a prestigious Golden Lion dedicated to her career at the Venice Film Festival in 1995.
Her role in the 1966 film "Modesty Blaise" marked her first foray into English-language cinema. The spy spoof starring British cinema icons Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde was met with mediocre reviews.
Another portrait of Monica Vitti during the 1962 Venice Film Festival
Another portrait of Monica Vitti during the 1962 Venice Film Festival Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Tributes from the international cinema community have been flooding social media, with critic Mark Cousins tweeting, "#MonicaVitti was - is - always will be - one of the great reasons to fall in love with movies." Director Sean Baker and many others responded to news of her passing.
The Criterion Collection -- a distributor of classic and contemporary arthouse films -- paid tribute to Vitti on Twitter. "No one captivated the screen like Monica Vitti, whose luminous presence, mysterious gaze, and intelligence as a performer made her a cinema icon synonymous with some of the greatest films ever made," the tweet read.
Rome's mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, also bade Vitti goodbye, tweeting: "Monica Vitti was one of the greatest Italian actresses, an extraordinary woman who marked the history of cinema with memorable interpretations. #Rome, her city, mourns her together with the whole country and will pay homage to her as she deserves a star."
CNN's Sugam Pokharel and Duarte Mendonça contributed to this report.