Virginia Campbell, Actress in DeMille's 'Unconquered,' Dies at 102
She also appeared onstage opposite Harpo Marx and hosted parties in Rome with her husband that inspired a scene in Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita.'
Virginia Campbell, who appeared in films directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Ernst Lubitsch and hosted parties with her husband that inspired Federico Fellini for a scene in La Dolce Vita, died on her 102 birthday.
Campbell died Feb. 17 in London, her daughter, artist Haidee Becker, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
In DeMille's 18th century-set epic Unconquered (1947), Campbell portrayed the wife of a blacksmith (Ward Bond) who memorably gives Paulette Goddard's character a bath in a rain barrel. The film also starred Gary Cooper, Boris Karloff and Howard Da Silva.
Lubitsch cast Campbell as Betty Grable’s maid in 1948's That Lady in Ermine (the director died eight days into filming and was replaced by Otto Preminger), and she appeared in 1951's Home Town Story.
She soon left Hollywood with her husband, writer John Becker, and they settled in Rome and hosted glamorous parties, where they put on a marionette theater. It made an impression on Fellini, who, according to her daughter, offered Campbell (and her puppets) a role in La Dolce Vita (1960).
Campbell declined, but the famed director based the Steiner couple on Campbell and her husband and duplicated their apartment (even using their paintings) in the film.
Later, Becker wrote and Campbell provided the illustrations for the 1964 book Near-Tragedy at the Waterfall.
A native of Plaquemine, La., Campbell studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and made her Broadway debut in 1937 in the comedy Farewell Summer.
Two years later, she appeared with Montgomery Clift in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, an early television production that aired during the World's Fair in New York. And in 1941, she starred onstage with Harpo Marx and Fay Wray in a production of the Chinese fantasy The Yellow Jacket.