Giulia Anna (Giulietta) Masina (February 22 1921 – March 23 1994) was a celebrated Italian film actress who was awarded with the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.

She starred in La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, the 1956 and 1957 winners, respectively, of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She was the wife of the Italian film director Federico Fellini, by whom Masina's career was much helped. By her intense performances, incarnating naive characters who dealt with cruel circumstances, Giulietta Masina is often known as the female Chaplin.[1][2][3]

Early life

Giulia Anna Masina was born on February 22, 1921, in San Giorgio di Piano, Bologna. Her parents were Gaetano Masina, a violinist and a music teacher, and Anna Flavia Pasqualin, a schoolteacher. Nonetheless, most childhood and adolescence of Giulia happened at Rome, living with a widowed aunt. Giulietta Masina had three elder siblings: Eugenia, and the twins Mario and Maria. Masina attended the Hermanas Ursulinas school; she subsequently graduated in literature, from the Sapienza University of Rome.

Professional career


Attending the university, Giullietta Masina turned to acting, particularly since 1941 participating in numerous plays, acting, singing, and dancing in the Ateneo Theatre of her university. In 1942 she inked for joining the Compagnia del Teatro Comico Musicale performing divers performances on stage.

Giulietta Masina then was cast by Fellini, who picked her after canvassing her photographs, for the radio station for which he was scripting. By 1943 Masina was effectively gaining notice as a radio actress, working beside some popular figures of those years. Masina's first work was Terziglio, a radio serial which was scripted by Fellini. It was about a young married couple and Massina incarnated Pallina, the wife main character. So, they fell in love and, in 1943, Masina was married to Fellini although they couldn't have children in tragical circumstances (See below). Despite distancing from acting, Giulietta Masina returned to the university stage for some time, acting with Marcello Mastroianni. Her latest stage work was in 1951.


Giulietta Masina was brought to the big screen, With the help of the professional influence of her husband, whose cinema career had begun to blossom;[4] actually, the half of Giulietta Masina's Italian films, the most successful ones, have been either written or directed by her husband.

Giulietta Masina debuted through an uncredited role in Paisà (1946) whereas Fellini was credited in its script. Masina's first screen credit was in the 1948 Without Pity film, which was another adaptation of Fellini, and she was opposite to John Kitzmiller. In 1954 she starred La strada of Fellini, which earned the Academy Award of Best Foreign Language Film meaning Masina's international stardom, incarnating the abused wife of a circus strongman (Anthony Quinn). In 1957 she won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of the title role in Fellini's Nights of Cabiria which earned the Best Foreign Language Film award of the Academy as well; Masina incarnated a prostitute who endures life's tragedies with innocence and resilience.

Masina's career was severely hit by the critic and office box failure of The High Life (1960). Subsequently she became dedicated mostly to attend her own life and marriage.

Nonetheless, she filmed again with Fellini in Juliet of the Spirits (1965), which earned both the best foreign language film award of the New York Film Critics (1965) and the best foreign language film award of the Golden Globes (1966).

In 1969 Masina did her first work in English, in The Madwoman of Chaillot beside Katherine Hepburn.

After almost two decades during which she did sporadic works for television only, Giulietta Masina filmed again with Fellini in Ginger and Fred, already in 1986. During those years, Masina rejected work offerings, instead to attend the precarious health of her husband. Her last work of cinema was A Day to Remember (1991).

Other works

In the late 1960s, Giulietta Masina hosted a popular radio show, Lettere aperte, in which she responded the correspondence of her listeners; those letters were published in a book subsequently. Since the 1970s, she was a figure of television as well, and two productions have been particularly successful, Eleonora (1973) and Camilla (1976).

Personal life

Several months after her marriage (1943), Giulietta Masina fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a miscarriage. After her second pregnancy, Pierfederico (nicknamed Federichino) was born in 1945, but he died just after a month by a respiratory insufficiency. The couple wouldn't attempt again to beget a child.


Giulietta Masina died from a cancer on March 23, 1994, at the age of seventy-three.


  • Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: 4 Silver Ribbon awards.
    • Best Actress: Nights of Cabiria (1957), Ginger and Fred (1986)
    • Best Supporting Actress: Without Pity (1948), Variety Lights (1950)
  • She was twice nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Foreign Actress.
  • David di Donatello honorary award (1986).
  • Cannes Film Festival Best actress award, by Nights of Cabiria (1957).
  • San Sebastián film festival Best actress award, by Nights of Cabiria (1957).


  • Paisà (1946, debut, uncredited)
  • Without Pity (1948)
  • Behind Closed Shutters (1950)
  • Variety Lights (1950)
  • Cameriera bella presenza offresi... (1951)
  • The Shameless Sex (1952)
  • The White Sheik (1952)
  • Europa '51 (1952)
  • La strada (1954)
  • Il bidone (The Swindlers, 1955)
  • Nights of Cabiria (1957)
  • Fortunella (1958)
  • Nella città l'inferno (1959)
  • The High Life (1960)
  • Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
  • The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969)
  • The Feather Fairy (1985)
  • Ginger and Fred (1986)
  • A Day to Remember (1991)

Notes and references

External links