Italian actress Valentina Cortese, Oscar-nominated for her performance in François Truffaut’s 1973 drama Day For Night, has died aged 96, according to Italian news service Ansa.
The prolific actress, whose career spanned more than 50 years, started out in Italian films of the early 1940s, leading to internationally acclaimed roles in Riccardo Freda’s 1948 Italian movie Les Misérables and the 1949 British film The Glass Mountain (1949), which led to a number of roles in American features.
Cortese starred in movies including second world war thriller Malaya with Spencer Tracy and James Stewart, Jules Dassin’s Thieves’ Highway with Richard Conte, and Joseph L Makiewicz’s The Barefoot Contessa with Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner.
In Europe she later starred in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Le Amiche, Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen and Franco Zeffirelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon.
In 1975, Cortese received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role as Severine in Truffaut’s acclaimed Day For Night. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe, and won a BAFTA for the performance. The actress’s final role was in Zeffirelli’s 1993 drama Sparrow.
Born in Milan in 1923, Cortese married Richard Basehart, her co-star in The House On Telegraph Hill, in 1951. The couple had one son, the actor Jackie Basehart, and divorced in 1960. She never remarried.