Pier Angeli

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Pier Angeli

Signature on Slip of Paper

Beautiful signature on 3″ x 5″ cream slip of paper.

PIER ANGELI (1932-1971) was an Italian-born actress who, in the middle of a promising career, died of a barbiturate overdose at age 39.

Angeli made her film debut with Vittorio de Sica in Domani è troppo tardi (1950), after being spotted by director Léonide Moguy. She was discovered by Hollywood, and MGM launched her in her first American film, Teresa (1951). Directed by Fred Zinnemann, this film also saw the joint debuts of Rod Steiger and John Ericson. Enthusiastic reviews for her eloquent and understated performance compared her to Greta Garbo, and she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress. Under contract with MGM throughout the 1950s, she appeared in a series of films. In The Light Touch with Stewart Granger, she indeed brought a light touch of innocence to the film. Plans for a film of Romeo and Juliet with her and Marlon Brando fell through when a British-Italian production was announced.

Her next few films were respectable but unexciting: The Story of Three Loves (1953) with Kirk Douglas; Sombrero, in which she replaced an indisposed Ava Gardner; and Flame and the Flesh (1954), where she lost her man to Lana Turner. MGM, after having discovered Leslie Caron, another Continental ingénue, loaned Angeli out to other studios. She went to Warner Bros. for The Silver Chalice, which marked the debut of Paul Newman, and made Mam’zelle Nitouche with the great French comic actor Fernandel.

Kirk Douglas and Pier Angeli were engaged in 1950s, according to Douglas’ autobiography. For a short time Angeli also had a close relationship with James Dean, and there was a great deal of speculation at the time about possible marriage. However, under pressure from her domineering mother, she broke off the relationship and went on to marry singer/actor Vic Damone (1954-1959). This was to end in divorce, followed by highly publicized court battles for the custody of their one son. Her second marriage was to Italian composer Armando Trovajoli (1962-1969), with whom she had another son. This marriage also ended in divorce. Just before her death, she spoke of her relationship with James Dean and in part said, “There was only one love in my life, and that was Jimmy Dean.”


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