Angeli, Pier (1932–1971)

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Angeli, Pier (1932–1971)

Italian actress. Born Anna Maria Pierangeli in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, on June 19, 1932; daughter of a construction engineer and architect father and an amateur actress mother; committed suicide on September 10, 1971; twin sister of Maria Luisa Pierangeli, who performed under the screen name Marisa Pavan ; married Vic Damone (a singer), on November 24, 1954 (divorced 1959); married Armando Travajoli (an Italian bandleader), in 1962 (separated 1963); children: (first marriage) Perry Rocco Damone (b. 1955); (second marriage) Howard Andrea (called Popino, b. 1963).

Selected filmography:

Domani é troppo Tardi (Tomorrow is Too Late, 1949); Domani é un altro Giorno (1950); Teresa (MGM, 1951); The Light Touch (MGM, 1951); The Devil Makes Three (MGM, 1952); The Story of Three Loves (MGM, 1953); Sombrero (MGM, 1953); The Flame and the Flesh (MGM, 1954); The Silver Chalice (WB, 1955); Santarella (French-Italian, 1954); Somebody Up There Likes Me (MGM, 1956); Port Afrique (Columbia, 1956); The Vintage (MGM, 1957); Merry Andrew (MGM, 1958); S.O.S. Pacific (U.K., 1959); The Angry Silence (U.K., 1960); Musketeers of the Sea (Italian-French, 1962); White Slave Ship (AIP, 1962); Sodoma e Gomorra (1961); Battle of the Bulge (WB; 1965); Spy in Your Eye (AIP, 1966); Per Mille Dollari al Giorno (Spanish-Italian, 1966); Rose Rosse Per Il Führer (Italian, 1968); Every Bastard a King (Israel, 1968); Addio, Alexandra (International Arts, 1971); Nelle Pieghe della Carne (In the Folds of the Flesh, 1971); Octaman (1971).

Pier Angeli was the daughter of a father who opposed a show-business career for his girls and a mother who carefully trained and nurtured a movie career for them. Angeli made her debut opposite Vittorio de Sica in Leonide Moguy's Domani é troppo Tardi (Tomorrow is Too Late, 1949). A year later, she filmed the sequel, Domani é un altro Giorno. Both films dealt with the pain of adolescence and the need for sexual guidance. Fred Zinnemann then hired her for the title role of his soulful Italian bride Teresa (MGM, 1951), which was filmed in Italy. At this time, she met singer Vic Damone who was stationed as a soldier there. Moving to Hollywood with her mother and sister, Angeli became a close friend of Debbie Reynolds (who taught her American slang), dated James Dean and Kirk Douglas, and surprised everyone by marrying Damone in 1954.

During the 1950s, Angeli played the lead in many Hollywood films, generally as the fragile innocent. She also struggled with injuries in her personal life. In 1955, she fell aboard an airplane while pregnant and broke her pelvis; fortunately, a healthy son was born that August. The following year, she broke her ankle and had a miscarriage. In addition, her marriage to Damone was little more than a series of separations and reconciliations; Damone blamed their problems on a meddling mother-in-law, and they were divorced in 1959. The next six years were taken up with custody battles over their son.

Except for her appearance in two prestigious television productions, as Bernadette of Lourdes in "Song of Bernadette" (1958) and as the Tahitian girl opposite Laurence Olivier in "The Moon and Sixpence" (1959), Angeli's career began to stall. After her breakup with Damone, she returned to Italy, remarried, made a few more movies, and ended up penniless. Returning to Hollywood in 1971, she was feted by her friend Reynolds and their mutual friend Agnes Moorehead ; both women were determined to reignite her career. On September 10, 1971, while living with drama coach Helen Sorell , Angeli died of an overdose of barbiturates at age 39, unaware that she had just been offered a guest-starring role on the then hugely popular Bonanza.