Laura Antonelli (born Laura Antonaz; 28 November 1941 – 22 June 2015) was an Italian film actress, who appeared in 45 films between 1965 and 1991.
Laura Antonelli was born Laura Antonaz in Pola, Italy (present-day Pula, Croatia), former capital of Istria.
She moved with her family first to Genoa and then to Venice, before they all eventually settled in Naples.
She had a childhood interest in education, and as a teenager she became proficient at gymnastics.
In an interview for the New York Times she recalled, “My parents had made me take hours of gym classes during my teens… They felt I was ugly, clumsy, insignificant and they hoped I would at least develop some grace.
I became very good, especially in rhythmical gym, which is a kind of dance.”
Setting aside ambitions to make a career in mathematics, she graduated as a gymnastics instructor.
She moved to Rome, where she became a secondary school gym teacher and was able to meet people in the entertainment industry, who helped her find modelling jobs.
Antonelli earliest engagements included Italian advertisements for Coca Cola.
In 1965, she made her first feature film appearance in Le sedicenni, although her performance went uncredited.
Her American debut came in 1966 in Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. Other roles followed; her breakthrough came in 1973’s Malizia.
She appeared in a number of sex farces such as Till Marriage Do Us Part/Mio Dio come sono caduta in basso!.
She worked in more serious films as well, including Luchino Visconti’s last film, The Innocent (1976).
In Wifemistress, a romance film of 1977, she played a repressed wife experiencing a sexual awakening.
Later she appeared in Passione d’Amore (1981). Antonelli’s most recent role was in the sequel Malizia 2000 (1991).
She won the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Award, Nastro d’Argento in 1974 for Malizia.
On 27 April 1991, cocaine was found during a police raid on Antonelli’s home.
She was subsequently convicted of possession and dealing and sentenced to house arrest.
She spent ten years appealing the conviction which was eventually overturned.
In 2006, the Italian court of appeals ruled in the favor of Antonelli and ordered to pay the actress 108,000 euros.
Antonelli died on 22 June 2015, aged 73, from a heart attack.