Fellini News Update #4

  • February 22, 2004

Today marks the birth date of Giulietta Masina, aka, Mrs. Federico Fellini. They met in 1942 on the set of a radio show scripted by Fellini. Apart from her own acting career, perhaps her greatest and most challenging role was to be one of the essential ingredients in the making of  Federico Fellini’s extraordinary success. Despite his well documented dalliances with other women, Fellini the artist was clearly most fascinated with Giulietta, his wife of fifty years. All things considered, it’s really quite a miracle their union produced seven films.

Giulietta was cast as Melina Amour in Variety Lights, Fellini’s first film as a director. The character of Cabiria who made a brief appearance in The White Sheik (1951), was brought to fruition in the 1957 Oscar winner,  The Night’s of Cabiria. Giulietta also had a minor role in Il Bidone (1955). But it was their teaming in La Strada in 1954, that captured the world’s attention and brought international star status to both.

Although Giulietta did not appear in Fellini’s greatest work, 81/2, the ghost of their tumultuous relationship was crucial to the story. With the Technicolor, Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Fellini tackled one of his most daring and difficult films. The character Giulietta played in that film must have hit very close to home. Giulietta would not act in another Fellini film for 20 years. Their final film together is the charming and poignant, Ginger and Fred  (1985).

When all is said and done, the soap opera of their life together becomes moot when watching Giulietta Masina’s transformation into Cabiria, Gelsomina, Juliet and Ginger. The wonderful legacy of these seven films they created will last far longer than their 50 year marriage. A tip of my top hat and a raised glass of vino to Giulietta Masina!