William Berger and his wife’s death

One of the questions that regularly pops up on European Cinema Boards concerns the tragic story behind the death of Austrian actor William Berger. Berger, of course, is a cult favourite nowadays, thanks to his appearences in Sabat, Sartana and so on. Well.. the facts, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, are as follows:

On the night of the 4th August 1970, in the course of an antidrug operation in the Neapolitan area William Berger lived with his wife, Carolyn Lobravico – also an actress – the police broke into their villa, where there were seven guests, and discovered half a gram of hashish. Berger swore he didn’t know where it had come from. The actor, with his long hair, rebellious attitude and extravagent nature, argued that the Neapolitan police must have done it in order to incriminate him and his guests, so much so that both he and his wife were taken to recover in a criminal hospital in Pozzuoli, despite there being no concrete proof of their guilt, of their mental instability and, more importantly, despite the fact that Carolyn was suffering from hepatitis.

In the asylum, William was seperated from Carolyn, who began suffering from terrible abdominal pain, but it was decided not to make a surgical intervention because it was thought she was suffering from a minor condition. It was soon clear the condition was getting worse and, when the doctors decided that there was nothing much more they could do, the decision was made to hospitalise Carolyn in a ward for the terminally ill. Berger – escorted by a squadron of policemen – was only able to see her on the 9th october, by which time she was in terrible agony and close to death, for a harrowing farewell.

The autopsy, requested after an outcry from certain quarters of the press, was able to clarify the cause of death of young Carolyn as acute peritonitis, but nothing was posted after the intervention of the police. Berger, meanwhile, was transferred to a prison in Salerno, from which he would only be released in March 1971. He refused to follow the advise of his lawyer, that he should blame his dead wife for the crime of which he was accused. In this dark period, distributors with neither feelings or scruples took the film La lama nel corpo out of storage; the film, in which Berger played a doctor suspected of homicide, was released with a cruel new publicity tag: ‘Berger, innocent or guity?’.

I have a long document about the whole case, a report on the police investigation into the whole farrago, but I haven’t had the opportunity to translate it into Italian. If anyone want me to mail them a copy, just ask… Carolyn Lobravico, by the way, had just appeared in Mario Caiano’s very strange Ombre rovente alongside her husband.


  1. Carolyn Lobravico, William Berger
    Hi, I would love to read the whole case…..Please email me a copy. Many thanks, Marilyn

  2. Best thing to do would be to look out for a book called ‘House of Angels’ by Timothy Wilson. It’s all about the case… I think you can pick up second hand copies on Amazon.com

  3. Hope you can help, I am trying to find out where my cousin Carolyn is buried. I will be in Naples in Oct. and hope to visit her grave. Any information would be appreciated and I would also like to find out where I could buy one of her Paintings.

    Thank you Jan Moore

    1. Carolyn Lobravico is buried in Praiano cemetery in a grave, marked only with a simple wooden cross and impossible to locate now. Praiano is the village (outside Positano on the Amalfi coast, Italy) where Bill Berger and Carolyn were living at the time – at “House of the Angels.” I wrote a book about their story “House of the Angels” (published in 1972).

      1. Doctor Wilson was there ever a movie made about this story or related to it, and by the way I have your book, great work.

        All the best Paul.

        1. Can anybody please help me contact Timothy Wilson the author of the book House of the Angels, I need to ask him a some questions about the story, for a possible adaptation for a theater script, thank you.
          I am currently residing in Naples Italy Tel 0039 081 344 84 20

          All the best Paul.

  4. You can see Carol Lobravico at the movie shadow of illusion posted on you tube recently as OMBRE ROVENTI AND ALSO in English Shadow Of Illusion,
    I watched this film as a kid, then as a teenager and could never forget the music, it took me 30 years to find a soundtrack and was never able to find the film , it is indeed a very strange film, Actress Daniela Giordano looked so beautiful in this film, also CArol Lobravico looks so enigmatic and so beautiful,

  5. I was staying in the house when the raid happened, and spent 3 months locked up without charges along with several other guests in Aversa Lunatic asylum for the non-crime.
    I stumbled across Timothy’s book quite by chance (ignorant even of its existence) in a small library in Hawaii 20 years after the episode.
    Carol was a very special person, and her death appalling.

  6. I knew a Bill Berger who was from Austria when I was a student at Coliumbia in the late 1940s. He was an outstanding cross-country runner and miler on the track team–he set the school record for the mile while he was there. He was also a photography model. Could this be the same person as the one in this obit?

  7. I’d say it was the same Bill Berger. People I know of that were friends always referred to him him as Bill or Billy Berger. After he attended Columbia he appeared in several Broadway plays and then went to Europe to become a successful film actor and starred and co-starred in quite a few films.

  8. Hi there,
    “For almost three summers I held my position as DJ – after our problem with the police raids – was it October 1970 – and the two months in detention – see: House of Angels by William Berger – where my house at the time (the gardeners cottage) gets a mention – thankyou Carol – we were forced to leave Italy………”

    Do you still have a copy of your long document about the whole case – t’would be great to have a read – I was there – seven of us all together – in one cell!

    have a good day – Steve

  9. Hi there, (Once Again)
    I sent a comment – in your direction – February 19 2021 – – I mentioned holding a position as DJ – this would have been at the Quicksilver Club – in Positano – ’68, ’69, ’70 – – – I was a part of a travelling theatre group (The Human Family) – – whilst performing at the Avignon festival in ’68 – we became known as the sister – to The Living Theatre – We had met earlier – in London – and caught up again in Avignon – our next stop would be the Spoleto festival – It was from here that I took off – to visit Shawn Phillips – a musician friend – living in Positano – the next thing I know – I am asked to be a DJ at the Quicksilver – (I had been a DJ earlier – in ’66 – at a Melbourne club – the Thumping Tum – I left for Europe 1-4-1966) – It was thru that association with the Living Theatre – I ended up in Praiano – in the gardeners shed – at Bill Berger’s place. – – – You mentioned something about a long document – of the whole case – – I am still awaiting your reply – – Steve 1

  10. Dianne Cilento – wrote a script – about the event – I don’t know if anything further happened with it – I did see her – at her home – in London – together with Robert (Pieicher) – to discuss the possibility of a film – after my trip to India – and eventual return to Australia – I lost all contact.

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