Born 1935 as Elisa Tia in Grosseto, Tuscany, Italian actress and fashion model Elsa Martinelli moved to Rome with her family and was discovered by Roberto Capucci who introduced her to the world of fashion in 1953.
Martinelli became a model and began playing small roles in films. She appeared in Claude Autant-Lara’s Le Rouge et le Noir (1954), but her first important film role came the following year with The Indian Fighter opposite Kirk Douglas, who claimed to have spotted her on a magazine cover and hired her for his production company, Bryna Productions.
In 1956 she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival for playing the title role in Mario Monicelli’s Donatella.
From the mid-1950s through the late 1960s, she divided her time between Europe and the United States, appearing in films such as Four Girls in Town (1957), Manuela (1957), Prisoner of the Volga (1959), Hatari! (1962), The Pigeon That Took Rome (1962), The Trial (1962), The V.I.P.s (1963), Rampage (1963), Woman Times Seven (1967), and Candy (1968).
From the late 1960s, she worked in Europe in mostly foreign language productions. Her last English language role was as Carla the Agent in Once Upon a Crime (1992). Her final acting appearance was in the 2005 European television series Orgoglio as the Duchessa di Monteforte.
Martinelli died of cancer in Rome in 2017, at the age of 82.
Take a look at these glamorous photos to see the beauty of young Elsa Martinelli in the 1950s and 1960s.