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Valli, Alida (1921—)

Valli, Alida (1921—)

Italian actress. Name variations: sometimes acted under the name Valli. Born Alida Maria Laura von Altenburger on May 3, 1921, in Pola, Italy; married Oscar de Mejo (a pianist-composer), in 1944 (separated).

Selected filmography:

T'amerò sempre (It., 1933); I Due Sergenti (1936); L'Ultima Nemica (1937); Ma

l'Amor mio non muore (1937); La Casa del Peccato (1938); Assenza ingiustificata (1939); Oltre L'Amore (1940); Piccolo Mondo antico (1941); L'Amante segreta (1941); Ore 9–Lezione di Chimica (Schoolgirl Diary, 1941); Le Due Orfanelle (The Two Orphans, 1942); Noi Vivi (Addio Kira, 1942); I Pagliacci (Laugh Pagliacci, 1942); Apparizione (1943); La Vita ricomincia (Life Begins Anew, 1945); Il Canto della Vita (1945); Eugenia Grandet (1946); The Paradine Case (US, 1948); The Miracle of the Bells (US, 1948); The Third Man (UK, 1949); The White Tower (US, 1950); Walk Softly Stranger (US, 1950); Les Miracles n'ont lieu qu'une fois (Fr.-It., 1951); Ultimo Incontro (1951); Les Amants de Tolede (The Lovers of Toledo (Fr.-It.-Sp., 1953); Siamo Donne (1953); La mano dello Straniero (The Stranger's Hand, It.-UK, 1953); Senso (The Wanton Contessa, 1954); Il Grido (The Outcry, 1957); La Diga sul Pacifico (This Angry Age or The Sea Wall, 1958); Les Bijoutiers du Clair de Lune (The Night Heaven Fell, Fr.-It., 1958); Les Yeux sans Visage (The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus, Fr., 1960); Les Dialogue des Carmélites (Fr., 1960); Une aussi Longue Absence (The Long Absence, Fr.-It., 1961); The Happy Thieves (US, 1962); Aphelia (Fr., 1962); El Vale de Las Spades (The Castilian, Sp.-US, 1963); Edipo Re (Oedipus Rex, 1967); Le Champignon (Fr., 1970); La Strategia del Ragno (The Spider's Stratagem, 1970); Le Prima Notte di Quiete (1972); Tendre Dracula (Tender Dracula, Fr., 1974); Ce Cher Victor (Fr., 1975); 1900 (1976); Le Jeu de Solitaire (Fr., 1976); The Cassandra Crossing (US, 1977); Berlinguer ti voglio bene (1977); Suspiria (1977); Un Cuore semplice (1978); L'Anti Cristo (The Tempter, 1978); La Luna (Luna, Fr., 1979); Inferno (1979); Aquella Casa En Las Afueras (Sp., 1980); Puppenspiel mit toten Augen (Ger.-It.-Sp., 1980); Aspern (1982); Sogni Mostruosamente Proibiti (It., 1983); Segreti Segreti (It., 1984); Hitchcock (1985); Il Brivido del Genio (It., 1985); Le Jupon rouge (Fr., 1987); A notre regrettable epoux (Fr., 1988); Zitti e mosca (The Party's Over, 1991); Il lungo silenzia (1993); A Month By the Lake (1994); The Seventh Room (1994); Fotogrammi mortali (Fatal Frames, It. 1996); Probably Love (It.-Sw., 1998); Il dolce rumore della vita (It., 1999); Semana Santa (Eur.-US, 2000); La Grande strada azzura (It., 2001).

Born in 1921 in Pola, Italy, to an Austrian journalist father and an Italian mother, Alida Valli briefly studied at Rome's Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia and entered film at age 15. Although relegated to routine productions, her haunting beauty and natural charm soon made her a star, one of Italy's highest paid young actresses. During World War II, however, she refused to continue working for the Fascist film industry and was forced into hiding in order to avoid being arrested or executed. Her mother, ironically, was shot as a collaborator by anti-Fascists in 1945.

Following the war, Valli and her then-husband, pianist-composer Oscar de Mejo, went to Hollywood at the invitation of David O. Selznick. (Among de Mejo's musical credits is the seasonal classic "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.") Valli was quickly cast in two American films, The Miracle of the Bells (1948), in which she was lauded for her interpretation of a dying actress, and The Paradine Case (1948), a Hitchcock thriller which starred her as an accused murderer. It was her knock-out performance as the mysterious and alluring actress Anna Schmidt in the British spy thriller The Third Man (1949), however, that won Valli international acclaim. The film, which co-starred Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles and was based on the novel by Graham Greene, won the grand prize at Cannes in 1949 and is remembered not only for its intriguing plot and riveting performances, but also for its haunting theme song, "The Third Man Theme." Played on a zither by Anton Karas, it became an international hit, and, according to Selznick who co-financed the film, caused "The Third Man" to become a term relating to Cold War espionage.

Valli's success carried her through the next four decades, although she gradually moved from romantic roles to character parts. Her career suffered a brief setback during the 1950s, when she served as an alibi for one of the politicians implicated in a notorious illicit drugs and casual sex scandal surrounding the unsolved murder of Italian model Wilma Montesi in April 1953.


Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Nash, Jay Robert, and Stanley Ralph Ross. The Motion Picture Guide: L–M, 1927–1983. Chicago, IL: Cinebooks, 1986.

Quinlan, David, ed. The Film Lover's Companion. Secaucus, NJ: Carol, 1997.

Sklar, Robert. Film: An International History of the Medium. NY: Harry N. Abrams, n.d.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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