Pier Angeli

Pier Angeli in Shadow of EvilPier Angeli was one of the better known female stars of the EuroSpy genre, mainly thanks to her brief flirtation with Hollywood in the 1950s and connection with a number of US ikons (she was reputed to have had a long standing love affair with james Dean, and to have never recovered after his death). There’s a wealth of information and trivia about her on the IMDB:

Anna Maria Pierangeli was born June 19, 1932, in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. Anna and her twin sister, Marisa Pavan, both had their eyes on become film stars, since that was one of the big Italian pastimes. Anna adopted her surname and split it in half, and it was as Pier Angeli that she would find fame. Her first role was an uncredited part in 1948’s The Million Dollar Nickel (1952), an Italian production. Pier was 16 at the time and it was to be the first of many roles for this beautiful woman. The film was largely forgettable but it was a start. The following year she played in another Italian production, Domani è troppo tardi (1950). Again it was a very small role, and she was not seen on the screen again until 1951. Between 1949 and 1951 she appeared in stage productions and found work in menial jobs. When she did return it was in the film The Light Touch (1952) as Anna Vasarri. Later that year she won the title role in Teresa (1951). However, she again hit a drought with only one film in 1952 and two in 1953. The next year things began to pick up, however, with Hollywood beckoning at her door. After the Italian Mam’zelle Nitouche (1954) she caught the eyes of Hollywood moguls, who cast her in Flame and the Flesh (1954) and The Silver Chalice (1954). Now she divided her time between Italy and the US making movies. She married Vic Damone in 1954, a union that lasted only four years and produced one son.

No film offers came in 1955, but in 1956 Pier landed the plum role of Norma Graziano (wife of fighter Rocky Graziano) in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) opposite Paul Newman. The film was well received at the box office and she had hopes that things were going to pick up again. She played Ynez in Port Afrique (1956) later that year and then another drought ensued. After The Vintage (1957), Merry Andrew (1958) and SOS Pacific (1959), she made three more films in 1960. Then once again 1961 saw no appearances. In 1962 Pier played Ildith in Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) and later that year played in a French production entitled Ammutinamento, L’ (1961). After the Italian production of Banco à Bangkok pour OSS 117 (1964) she returned in the hit European-American co-production Battle of the Bulge (1965).

After a handful of films between 1966 and 1970, Pier realized her dreams of superstardom were not to be. She had divorced her second husband (Armando Trovajoli) in 1969 and made her final appearance on the screen in 1971 in the low-budget sci-fi opus Octaman (1971). On September 10 of that year Pier was found dead of a barbiturate overdose in her Beverly Hills home. She was only 39 years old.

As for her spy films, she made for an alluring love interest in Shadow of Evil (64), starred opposite Fred Beir in M.M.M. 83 (65) and had a bit of a nothing role in Spy in Your Eye (65). Considering her undoubted skills as an actress, it’s a shame that none of her roles were more interesting: perhaps her somewhat fragile appearance restricted her from the sparkier parts that were a bit more eye-catching.

There’s a very good fan site for her, which is well worth checking out.

It’s also worth checking out YouTube, which has a number of Pier related videos:

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