Date of Birth8 November 1936, Jesi, Ancona, Marche, Italy
Birth NameVirna Pieralisi
Virna Lisi began her film career in her teens. She was discovered by two Neapolitan producers (Antonio Ferrigno and Ettore Pesce) in Paris. Her debut was in La corda d'acciaio (The line of steel, 1953). Initially, she did musical films, like in E Napoli canta (Napoli sings, 1953) and the successful Questa è la vita (1954, with the popular Totò). Nonetheless, soon Virna Lisi became a figure whose beauty was more valued than her talent, like in Le diciottenni and Lo scapolo films of 1955. Still, she incarnated demanding roles, particularly in La Donna del Giorno(1956), Eva (1962), and the Italian-made spectacle Romolo e Remo (1961).
In the late 1950s, Lisi did theater at Piccolo Teatro di Milano, in I giacobini by Federico Zardi, under the direction of Giorgio Strehler. During the 1960s, Virna Lisi did comedies and, also, she participated in dramatic television productions which were of the most viewed in Italy. Also in television Lisi was the figure who promoted a toothpaste brand, with a slogan which would become a catchphrase amongst the Italians: "con quella bocca può dire ciò che vuole" (with such mouth, she can say whatever she wants).
In Hollywood, the producers were looking for a new figure of the Marilyn Monroe vibe and so Virna Lisi made a dent in Hollywood comedy as a tempting blue-eyed blonde starring opposite Jack Lemmon in How to Murder Your Wife (1965), and appearing with Tony Curtis in Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966). Lisi starred with Frank Sinatra, in Assault on a Queen(1966). Also Lisi starred in films such as La Ragazza e il Generale, co-starring with Rod Steiger, and two films with Anthony Quinn, The Secret of Santa Vittoria, directed by Stanley Kramer, and the war drama The 25th Hour. She also gained attention for a photo of her shaving her face that appeared on the March 1965 cover of Esquire magazine.
Career renaissance in Europe
Indeed, to overcome her typecast just of a seductive woman, Virna Lisi sought new types of roles, of evil women or of a lover in relationships of disparate age for example. In those years, Virna Lisi participated in Italian productions, in Casanova 70 and Le bambole (1965), Arabella (1967), and Le dolci signore (1968). Also Lisi starred some films of author, of whichThe Birds, the Bees and the Italians (1965) is an example.
In the early 1970s, Virna Lisi decided temporarily to attend to her family, husband Franco Pesci and her son Corrado, born in July 1962. Nonetheless, a career renaissance occurred soon for Virna with a large list of productions, including Al di là del bene e del male (1977), Ernesto (1979), and La cicala (1980). For the film La Reine Margot (1994), Lisi portrayed a malevolent Catherine de' Medici and so she won both the César and Cannes Film Festival awards, along with the David di Donatello award, the Italian equivalent of the Oscar.
Particularly since the late 1990s, Virna Lisi did many successful dramatic productions of television. In 2002, Lisi starred in her last film, Il più bel giorno della mia vita.
Franco Pesci (25 April 1960 - present) 1 child
TriviaAlternated filming activity with television and stage acting, namely at Piccolo Teatro di Milano, where she did "I giacobini" by Federico Zardi, under the direction of Strehler. She was one of the stars launched as a successor to Marilyn Monroe in the United States, in the late '60s.The '80s Argentinian band, Sumo (led by an Italian singer), made a song for her. The singer's brother is the actor Andrea Prodan, who appeared with her in the movie I ragazzi di via Panisperna (1989).Was cast in the title role in Barbarella (1968), but she turned it down and returned to Italy.She has three grandsons: Franco (b. 1995), Federico and Riccardo (b. 2003).One child from Franco Pesci: Corrado, born in July 1962.
For Me Virna Lisi Was and is pure heaven, she is one of the most beautiful women in the world to me. Thought I haven't seen many of her films, so many are not available on DVD or VHS, But the ones I have seen and own, I cherish. I remember the first time I watched HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE, I fallen love with her and jack Lemon as well. Look at her eye's amazing.! Here's a selected list of a few of her films that I love...if you find more that are available let me know! Viva Ilatlia!cheers!
- The Girl and the General (1967)
- Arabella (1967)
- The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)
- The Statue (1971)
- Bluebeard (1972)
- Night Flight From Moscow (1973)
- The cricket (1980)
- La Reine Margot (1994)