Catherine Spaak, too tall for ballet

Catherine Spaak (3 April 1945 France – 17 April 2022 Italy): “a multifaceted, cultured and elegant artist who found a home in our country [of Italy] that she welcomed and loved.”

Catherine Spaak, Leading Lady of Italian Films, Dies at 77
Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, April 18, 2022

Catherine Spaak, a leading lady of Italian films who starred with Jean-Paul Belmondo in Weekend at Dunkirk, with Rod Taylor in Hotel and with Marcello Mastroianni in The Man With the Balloons, has died. She was 77.

Spaak had suffered a brain hemorrhage last year, and her death in Rome was reported Sunday by RAI News. She was a naturalized citizen of Italy and did most of her work there.

“I was terrified of acting,” she once said. “I lived in terror for years. I didn’t want to be an actress but a ballerina, [but] I was too tall at the time. But doing this job was my salvation.”

Born in France in 1945 to Belgian parents, Spaak appeared in her first film when she was 15 and found early success in the Dino Risi-directed road trip comedy Il Sorpasso (1962), starring Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

Her credits also included The Little Nuns (1963); The Empty Canvas (1963); The Man, the Woman and the Money (1965), also starring Mastroianni; L’armata Brancaleone (1966); Adultery Italian Style (1966); The Libertine (1968); If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969); Diary of a Telephone Operator (1969), where she was paired with Claudia Cardinale; Horse Fever (1976); and Alice (2010).

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