After a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the ‘Queen of Italian Cinema,’ Monica Vitti, has died at the age of 90.
Vitti is best known for her work with Italian auteur Michelangelo Antonioni on his films L’Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961), L’Eclisse (1962), and Red Desert (1964).
Despite being the touchstone of her legacy, L’Avventura, opened to a “chorus of boos” from the Cannes Film Festival audience, according to The New York Times. Vitti thought her career was over and left the theater in tears. “A cabal of filmmakers, led by Roberto Rossellini, wrote an impassioned defense of the film, and it went on to win the festival’s Special Jury Prize and to become widely hailed as a cinematic landmark.”
Italian director and politician confirmed the news on Twitter, saying, “Roberto Russo, her companion in these years, asks me to communicate that Monica Vitti is no more. I do so with great grief, affection, and nostalgia.”
In a press release, Italy’s culture minister wrote, “Farewell to Monica Vitti, farewell to the queen of Italian cinema. Today is a really sad day, a great artist and a great Italian disappeared.”
Reaction from the film community poured in on Twitter.
Vitti would go on to star in The Pizza Triangle and the Luis Buñuel film The Phantom of Liberty. She starred in and directed the film Secret Scandal in 1989, co-starring Elliott Gould, which was her last film credit.
Vitti has been out of the public eye since 2001 due to her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She is survived by her husband of 27 years, Roberto Russo.