She did not have the overflowing sensuality typical of the famous actresses of that time, but she was able to stand out for a more naive fragile type of beauty, as well as for that dangerous charm of the eternal adolescent: Anna Maria Pierangeli.

Anna Maria Pierangeli in 1957

Beautiful, smart, talented and unfortunate as the actress did not escape the sad destiny that sometimes oppresses people from the showbiz. Anna Maria, born in Cagliari in 1932, had in the back a solid Catholic family where the father architect did not think very highly of her career in the filmmaking industry, started in a random way.

Anna Maria Pierangeli and James Dean – 1954

Her first film, “Tomorrow is too late”, released in 1950, made her won the “Nastro d’Argento” award as Best Actress, and this success pushed her all the way to the sparkling world of Hollywood, making her the very first Italian actress famous in the US. Her candor, courteous manners, the innocent vibe captured the American audience, but her production company, the MGM, was not always valued at its best.

Of her American friends it remains the memory of the nickname they assigned to her, Pier Angeli, that actress probably not fully utilised and that love so brief yet so intense with James Dean.

Another personality  that didn’t elude a tragic end, an early death which would have transformed him into a myth, the one of a “rebel without a cause” who had ruined his youth just like those “close to the gods”.

Before that tragic afternoon on the 30th of September 1955 though, when the Porsche of James Dean got smashed against another car, Anna Maria had already left “her own and only love” dues to the aversion of her mother for a non-Catholic man.

But James could not forget the deep dark eyes of Annarella, like he used to call her, or her bright smile, their strokes in the moonlight, by the sea in Santa Monica. Everyone believed that they would have spent their lives together for good.

But in November 1954, she married an Italian American singer appreciated by her family, Vic Damone. James Dean in the meantime, outside the church, was on top of his bike with the black leather jacket that she had bought to him.

Dean’s life finished shortly after and the one of Anna Maria carried on for some other 20 years but it was never happy. Two unsuccessful marriages, two children who took away from her, poor films that she had to star in only for economical needs, dubious romantic relationships, depressive crises and several stays in psychiatric clinics. On the 10th of September 1971 she was eventually found death in her room in Beverly Hills.

The medical report was talking of natural death: her heard had given up to a too heavy dose of barbiturates or maybe a depressive state which could not be tolerated anymore.

She was around 39 anni, and her sad and lonely death linked her to the myth of James Dean. Like him, the actress will be remembered as a rising star which extinguished their fire too early.

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean at the premiere of the second release of “Gone with the Wind” 1954

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean at the Premiere of “Gone with the Wind” in Los Angeles, 1954

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean at the Premiere of “Gone with the Wind” in Los Angeles, 1954

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean at the Premiere of “Gone with the Wind” in Los Angeles, 1954

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean at the Premiere of “Gone with the Wind” in Los Angeles, 1954

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean at the Premier of “A Star is Born”, 1954

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean at the Premier of “A Star is Born”

Below: Anna Maria Pier Angeli and James Dean on the photographic set, big passion of the American actor

All pictures belong to the public domain

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