Her name was Anna Maria Pierangeli.
She had a twin sister, Maria Luisa Pierangeli.
But when a Hollywood scout discovered her, and brought her and her family to MGM, a new name was suggested. The twins dominating mother, Mrs. Pierangeli, would have none of THAT. It was a proud name.
Besides, Anna had at 18 already costarred under her given name with the estimable actor-director Vittorio de Sica in an Italian film, 1950’s Tomorrow Is Too Late. So, what could be wrong with the name assigned to her at birth?
MGM execs explained it was just too long for movie marquees. Finally, a compromise. Her surname alone would be used as both her marquee names. And Pier Angeli was born. (Her sister would take the professional name Marisa Pavan.)
We should note that Pier Angeli’s life, both professional and offscreen, was short and unhappy. There were lost loves, and lost movie parts she intensely longed to play. She died at age 39 of her own hand, one of Hollywood’s legendary suicides.
At one time, though, she was regarded as an actress of real box office potential. The trade journal, Motion Picture Herald, did not name her “Star of Tomorrow” for nothing.
Ok, let’s test your Pier Angeli chops, and see how much you know about this fleeting Hollywood star. As usual questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Pier Angeli’s most enduring Hollywood film, 1956’s Somebody Up There Likes Me, is a biopic about a boxer played in the movie by a popular leading man. Can you name this actor, and the real-life pugilist he portrayed?
2) Question: Angeli was famously married to which one of the following pop singers of the period? a) Fabian; b) Frankie Avalon; c) Vic Damone; or d) Perry Como.
3) Question: Angeli also had her share of notable lovers, a group that does NOT include which one of the following? a) Kirk Douglas; b) James Dean; c) Armando Travajoli; or d) Jean-Pierre Aumont.
4) Question: During a dark period during which she couldn’t find work, Angeli somewhat improbably became very close with which one of the following female stars? a) Joan Crawford; b) Jane Mansfield; c) Debbie Reynolds; or d) Rita Gam.
5) Question: How exactly did Angeli commit suicide? a) She listened one too many times to her then husband’s latest record album; b) Jumped off a tall building on the MGM lot; c) Overdosed on barbiturates after four previous suicide attempts; or d) Flung herself in front of heavy traffic on Sunset Boulevard.