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Giulietta Masina, muse, actress and wife of legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.
She was born Giulia Anna Masina, in San Giorgio di Piano near Bologna in 1920, from a violinist father and teacher mother.
She spent part of her teenage years living with a widowed aunt in Rome, where she cultivated a passion for the theater and studied for a degree in Philosophy. She began her career on the radio with the program “Terzoglio” (1942), about the adventures of newlyweds Cico and Pallina from scripts written by Federico Fellini. The series brought her great success and love. Soon after, on October 30, 1943, she and Fellini were married and she became the inspiration and emotional focal point for a number of Fellini’s most popular films.
In 1946, she made her film debut in a small role in Roberto Rossellini‘s “Paisan” (Paisà), then her first important movie role, a prostitute in Alberto Lattuada’s ”Senza pietà” (Without Pity, 1948), co-scripted by Fellini, for which she won a Silver Ribbon for best supporting actress.
Then she performed in ”Behind Closed Shutters” (Persiane chiuse, 1951), directed by Luigi Comencini, ”Variety Lights“ (Luci del varietà, 1950), which also marked Fellini’s debut as director, and “Europe ’51″ (Europa ’51, 1952), directed by Roberto Rossellini. The same year Fellini cast her in his first solo directorial effort, ”White Sheik” (Lo sceicco bianco, 1952). In the minor role of the good-hearted prostitute Cabiria, but her artistic partnership with her husband really took off with the Oscar-winning ”The Road “(La strada, 1954), followed by ”The Swindle” (Il bidone, 1955) and the widely acclaimed ”Nights of Cabiria” (Le notti di Cabiria, 1957), in which Fellini and Masina revisited and amplified the character of Cabiria which again won an Oscar and brought her the award for Best Female Performance at the Cannes Film Festival. Over the following years she played many memorable roles in such films as ”Fortunella” (1958), directed by Eduardo De Filippo; ”And The Wild, Wild Women” (Nella città l’inferno, 1959), directed by Renato Castellani, and later in the semi-biographical “Juliet of the Spirits” (Giulietta degli spiriti, 1965). The film examines the dynamics of a strained marriage, and Masina plays the wife, Giulietta (the choice of name was not a coincidence), who faces the difficulties of asserting her own identity. After the film was released, Masina continued to perform regularly on radio and television but appeared less frequently in films. She also continued, as she had done throughout her marriage, to advise and collaborate with Fellini. Masina returned to the movies in 1986 in Fellini’s Ginger e Fred.
Her death in 1994 occurred just months after her husband’s.
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