Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Italian Actress Virna Lisi Has a New Kind of Beauty

Cleveland Press 1965

CHICAGO: -- The scene was Maxim's, the lights were low and the music soft. Seated beside me was an actress, a blond, green eyed Italian.

"Mastroianni? Oh, I love Mastroianni. I think Mastroianni is wonderful.

Trouble is, she was talking about another guy.

Virna Lisa is an Italian actress of some standing, 25 movies plus stage and television appearances, but is unknown here. She will not remain unknown very long.

SHE SHARES star billing with Jack Lemmon in her first American film, "How To Murder Your Wife." Though her previous roles were all dramatic, she turns to comedy for the first time in this one.

She will be seen soon in "Casanova '70" with Marcello Mastroianni, in which she portrays his wife.

"It is a fantastic film," she said, outlining the plot in a mixture of Italian and English. Her English is sketchy but delightful and she peppers her conversation with "it is fantastic" and "it is possible."

Virna Lisa represents a new type of Italian actress, definitely not the Loren or Lollobrigida type. She is fair, slim and has a patrician face. There's sex appeal, but it's understated, subtle.

Miss Lisa has been married to Italian industrialist Franco Pesci for four years and they have a two-year-old son.

"He prefers I stay home, she said, "but it is not possible."


"I FELT a grownup person when I started working. Acting is essential part of my life "

She is 27, started acting 12 years ago. She likes fast sports cars and can fly a plane, a practice her husband put an end to.

In the movie she makes her first appearance emerging from a cake at a stag party, wearing a whipped cream-covered bikini. Executive producer Gordon Caroll told me earlier that Miss Lisi's husband was on the set that day and was very upset.

Asked to confirm it, Miss Lisi said briefly and seriously: "It is true."

Carroll's comment : "I played matador to his bull."

There's an obvious attempt by the film's publicists to build up Miss Lisi as a sex symbol, something she does not much like.

IN THE NEXT five years she will make five more pictures for her American employers; another, she hopes, with Jack Lemmon. "It is fantastic to work with him "

The music became a little livelier and she clicked her fingers and moved her shoulders rhythmically.

With all of her husband's objections to her work, she must have a formula for keeping a man happy.

"It is my secret," she said.