Valentina Cortese, an Italian actress who held the extremely rare distinction of having been nominated for best supporting actress for her work in a foreign film, Francois Truffaut's 1973 classic "Day for Night," has died, according to Italian news agency Ansa. She was 96.
In Truffaut's "Day for Night," considered by many to be the best movie about making movies ever made, Cortese played, in the words of Roger Ebert, "the alcoholic diva past her prime." The New York Times said: "The performances are superb. Miss Cortese and Miss Bisset are not only both hugely funny but also hugely affecting, in moments that creep up on you without warning."
For a two-part, Carlo Ponti-produced 1948 film adaptation of "Les Miserables," Cortese caused a sensation by playing both female leads, Fantine and Cosette. (The film was otherwise an adequate treatment of the Victor Hugo novel.)
"With Valentina Cortese's passing, the Italian entertainment industry loses its last diva of cinema and theater," said Carlo Fontana, president of AGIS, Italy's main show-business trade organization.