Italian Actress Mariangela Melato Dies at 71

Mariangela Melato 2003  - P 2013
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Mariangela Melato 2003  - P 2013

Melato was best known for her role as a stranded socialite who falls in love with a common sailor in 1974's "Swept Away."

ROME – Mariangela Melato, the Italian actress best known for her role as a high-maintenance prima donna in Lina Wertmuller’s 1974 adventure comedy Travolta da un insolito destino nell’azzuro mare d’agosto (Swept Away), died Friday in Rome from complications related to pancreatic cancer. She was 71.

Hailed as one of Italy’s most eclectic and versatile theater actresses, Melato also played the villain General Kala in Mike Hodges’ sci-fi thriller Flash Gordon (1980) and starred opposite Ryan O’Neal in the comedy So Fine (1981). But the blonde star remained best known for her portrayal as the marooned socialite who falls for a common sailor, played by Giancarlo Giannini, in Swept Away.

The film was remade with Madonna in Melato’s role for 2002’s Swept Away, directed by Guy Ritchie.

Melato’s last onscreen appearance came in 2010 in the television adaptation of Eduardo De Filippo theater drama Filumena Marturano, which was made as her health had started to deteriorate.

She was hospitalized in November, causing some theater performances scheduled for that month to be canceled. Italian newspapers said the entire Italian film industry was mourning Melato’s death.