Marisa Pavan

Marisa Pavan
Marisa Pavan

Marisa Pavan TCM Overview.

Marisa Pavan was born in Sardinia in 1932 and is the twin sister of the actress Pier Angeli.   Pavan’s breaktrough role came in 1955 as the daughter of Anna Magnani in “The Rose Tattoo” based on the play by Tennessee Williams.  

Pavan was nominated foran Oscar for her performance.   She was married to the late French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont.

TCM Overview:

The twin sister of actress Pier Angeli, Marisa Pavan was generally cast in gentle roles during her brief career as a leading lady of 1950s films. The attractive, Italian-born brunette made her motion picture debut in John Ford’s 1952 remake of “What Price Glory?”, playing a sweet village girl, and followed as a doomed Native American in love with Indian fighter Alan Ladd in Delmar Daves’ “Drum Beat” (1954).

Pavan won a Golden Globe Award and earned an Oscar nomination for her performance as the sensitive teenaged daughter of the formidable Anna Magnani in “The Rose Tattoo” (1955).

She held her own in the costume epic “Diane” (also 1955), in which she competed with Lana Turner for the affections of Roger Moore.

In Nunnally Johnson’s “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit” (1956), Pavan brought warmth and believability to her role as the war-time love of Gregory Peck.

After appearing opposite Tony Curtis in the taut mystery “The Midnight Story” (1957) and two more costume epics, “John Paul Jones” and “Solomon and Sheba” (1959), the actress retired from the big screen for more than a decade.

A mini-biography on Marisa Pavan can be viewed on the TCM website here.

Marisa Pavan died at her home in France in 2023 at the age of 91.


The Hollywood Reporter obituary in 2023:

Maria Luisa Pierangeli and her sister (birth name Anna Maria Pierangeli, who was older by a few minutes) were born on June 19, 1932, in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. Their father, Luigi, was an architect and construction engineer, and their mother, Enrica, was a homemaker who once dreamed of being an actress.

“My mother adored Shirley Temple and took us to see all her movies,” Pavan said in Jane Allen’s 2002 book, Pier Angeli: A Fragile Life. “She even dressed us like Shirley Temple, hence the big bows in our hair.”

The family moved to Rome in the mid-1930s and was threatened when the Nazis occupied the city.

When she was 16, Anna was strolling along the Via Veneto on the way home from art school when she was discovered by Vittorio De Sica, and she portrayed a teenager on the verge of a sexual awakening opposite him in Tomorrow Is Too Late (1950). That brought her to the attention of MGM, which cast her in Teresa (1951), signed her to a seven-year contract and gave her the stage name Pier Angeli.

Angeli and her sister then moved to Los Angeles, and Maria, with no acting experience, was signed by Fox. Newly christened Marisa Pavan, she made her big-screen debut as a French girl in John Ford’s World War I-set What Price Glory (1952), starring James Cagney and Dan Dailey.

Pavan then appeared in 1954 in the film noir Down Three Dark Streetsand in the Western Drum Beat, starring Broderick Crawford and Alan Ladd, respectively, before she broke out in The Rose Tattoo.

Pavan also co-starred in a pair of epic adventures released in 1959, playing Robert Stack’s love interest in John Farrow’s John Paul Jones(1959) and the servant Abishag in King Vidor’s Solomon and Sheba(1959). In the latter, she worked alongside Yul Brynner, who joined the film in Spain after the sudden death of Tyrone Power.

Pavan worked mainly in television after that, with stints on such shows as The United States Steel Hour, Naked City77 Sunset StripCombat!The F.B.I.Wonder WomanHawaii Five-O and The Rockford Files.

THE MIDNIGHT STORY, Tony Curtis, Marisa Pavan, on-set, 1957
Marisa Pavan and Tony Curtis on the set of 1957’s ‘The Midnight Story’ COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

In 1976, she appeared as Kirk Douglas‘ mentally ill wife in the Arthur Hailey NBC miniseries The Moneychangers, and she played Chantal Dubujak, mother of crime lord Max DuBujak (Daniel Pilon), in 1985 on the ABC soap opera Ryan’s Hope.

Angeli, who dated James Dean before she married singer Vic Damone and portrayed the wife of champion boxer Rocky Marciano (played by Paul Newman) in 1956’s Somebody Up There Likes Me, died in 1971 at age 39 of a barbiturate overdose at a Beverly Hills apartment. It was never firmly established whether she died by suicide or suffered a reaction to prescribed medication.

Pavan was married to French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont (her castmate in John Paul Jones) from 1956 until his 2001 death. Survivors include her sons, Jean-Claude (a cinematographer) and Patrick, and her younger sister, Patrizia Pierangeli, also an actress

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