Actress Mariangela Melato Dies At 71

Italian actress Mariangela Melato died in Rome on Friday at 71 from pancreatic cancer.

Melato had a long and distinguished career on stage and in the movies but she is perhaps best known here for her 1974 role in Swept Away, directed by Lina Wertmuller.

The New York Times, which described the actress as “blond and throaty-voiced, with striking green eyes,” provided this summary of Swept Away, in which she starred opposite Giancarlo Giannini :

” … a sometimes harrowing romantic comedy of class conflict released in Italy in 1974. Raffaella, a haughty member of the Milanese upper class, is outspoken in her contempt for Gennarino (Mr. Giannini), a Communist Sicilian deckhand aboard a yacht she has rented. When the two become stranded on a Mediterranean island, they reverse their societal roles, with Gennarino humiliating and abusing Raffaella until she submits and falls in love with him. They quickly reassume their places in society once rescued.”

She was also paired with Giannini in two other provocative Wertmuller films, The Seduction of Mimi and Love and Anarchy. Mariangela Melato has 66 film credits in her IMDB listing ranging from 1970 through 2010. The Los Angles Times notes that “her English-language projects include a featured role as a gangster’s wife in the 1981 film farce So Fine and a supporting role in 1980’s Flash Gordon.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Italian newspapers said the entire Italian film industry was mourning Melato’s death.”

Madonna starred in a failed and universally panned remake of Swept Away in 2002 which was directed by her then-husband Guy Ritchie.

Watch a scene from the original Swept Away with Mariangela Melato: