José Luis de Vilallonga, 9th Marquess of Castellbell

José Luis de Vilallonga y Cabeza de Vaca, 9th Marquess of Castellbell, GE (29 January 1920 – 30 August 2007) was a Spanish actor, author and aristocrat who rose to prominence when he co-starred with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Julie Christie in Darling.

The Marquess of Castellbell

Villalonga and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961
José Luis de Vilallonga y Cabeza de Vaca

(1920-01-29)29 January 1920
Died30 August 2007(2007-08-30) (aged 87)
Resting placePoblenou Cemetery
OccupationAuthor, aristocrat and actor
Years active19581997
The Hon. Esyllt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis
(m. 1945; div. 1972)

Syliane Stella Morell
(m. 1974; div. 1995)

María Begoña Aranguren Gárate (m. 19992007)
Partner(s)Michèle Girardon (1958–1972)

Early life

Born in Madrid, Spain, de Vilallonga – who also went by the surname of Cabeza de Vaca – was a Grandee of Spain and part of the nobility, holding the title of Marquis de Castellbell. Upon the declaration in 1931 of Spain's Second Republic his family went into exile in Biarritz, France, but returned six months later. When the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936, de Vilallonga was at a French school, but his father ordered him back to Spain to fight on the side of General Franco. By his mother´s family side he was a first cousin of both the Marquis of Portago known as Alfonso de Portago y Cabeza de Vaca and Vicente Sartorius y Cabeza de Vaca 4th Marquis de Mariño. His father was an enthusiastic supporter of Franco, and at age 16 de Vilallonga was a serving member of a Nationalist execution platoon.[1]


After World War II, de Vilallonga became increasingly disenchanted with the Franco regime, and he left the Spanish diplomatic service to live abroad. In 1954 his first novel, The Ramblas End in the Sea, was published, causing the Spanish military government censor to issue a ban on his reentry to the country. He then obtained work as a foreign correspondent for the national press agency EFE and for the magazines Paris Match, Marie Claire and Vogue. His social connections and ability to relate gossip among Europe's jet set enabled him to regularly sell magazine articles, in addition to authoring four autobiographical tell-all books about his numerous love affairs.[1] After recording taped interviews with Spain's King Juan Carlos, he wrote an official biography of the King that was published in 1993.

Throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, de Vilallonga continued his acting career. Though he refused a Hollywood acting contract, a highlight in his acting career was a role as "José da Silva Pereira," the dashing Brazilian multimillionaire whom Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn) planned to marry in Blake Edwards' classic movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). He also appeared as the debonair Prince Cesare Della Romita, who becomes Julie Christie's second husband in Darling (1965).

Personal life

Vilallonga was married three times,[2] to The Honourable Esyllt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis (daughter of Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden) (b. 1916 d. 1983) (married 1945, divorced 1972), Syliane Stella Morell (married 1974, divorced 1995), and since 1999 to journalist Begoña Aranguren. A spendthrift, he soon disposed of much of his first wife's inheritance and property. He had frequent affairs, including a relationship with the French actress Michèle Girardon and Hungarian actress Magda Gabor,[3] both while still legally married to Essylt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis. Girardon eventually committed suicide in 1975 after de Vilallonga ended their relationship to marry Syliane Stella Morell. Though courts twice found him liable for alimony to his first wife Essylt-Priscilla Scott-Ellis, de Vilallonga never paid the judgment, an act which reduced her to poverty for the remainder of her life. His third wife Begoña Aranguren also became disenchanted with de Vilallonga, and the couple separated in 2002. Aranguren wrote a scathing portrayal of the aging socialite and their marriage in 2004.[1]


De Vilallonga died at his home on the island of Majorca on 30 August 2007 from natural causes.[4][5] He is survived by children John and Carmen from his first marriage and an adopted son Fabricio. King Juan Carlos expressed his sadness at Vilallonga's death.


Year Title Role Notes
1958The LoversRaoul Florès
1960L'Ennemi dans l'ombreGeorges Dandieu
1961Vive Henri IV, vive l'amourL'envoyé d'Espagne
1961Les Mauvais CoupsPrévieux
1961The Nina B. AffairKurt
1961Breakfast at Tiffany'sJosé da Silva Pereira, a Brazilian millionaire.
1962Tales of ParisLouis(segment "Sophie")
1962Cléo from 5 to 7The Lover
1962Le Rendez-vous de minuitBob
1962La Loi des hommesLe prêtre
1963Any Number Can WinM. Grimp
1963Don't Tempt the DevilPaul Dupré
1964Behold a Pale HorseHorse Dealer
1964The Magnificent CuckoldThe Club President
1965The Three FacesRodolph(segment "Gli amanti celebri")
1965The SuckerUncredited
1965DarlingPrince Cesare della Romita
1965Juliet of the SpiritsGiorgio's friend
1966A Maiden for a PrinceAlessandro de Medici
1966Tecnica di un omicidioDr. Goldstein / Frank Secchy
1967L'homme qui trahit la mafiaMario Vérona
1970The Naughty CheerleaderMr. Epstein
1971Sapho ou la Fureur d'aimerMaurice Duran-Vior
1971The BurglarsTasco
1972Le ViagerLe général qui décore MartinetUncredited
1973The AngelsBernard
1975Trop c'est tropLe photographe
1976The Good and the Bad
1976Chi dice donna dice donnaLouis(segment "Donne d'affari")
1980Speed CrossMeyer
1980Voltati EugenioTristano
1980Une femme au bout de la nuitXavier, le mari
1981National HeritageÁlvaro
1981PatriziaLord James Cook
1981Dos y dos, cincoJuanjo's Father
1982Nacional IIIÁlvaro
1983ScarabPresidente frances
1985Tex and the Lord of the DeepDr. Warton
1988La DiputadaFederico
1989Blood and SandDon José
1992The Long WinterConde de Santbenet


  • The Man of Blood (1961), ISBN 2-02-000961-7
  • Allegro Barbaro (1969), ISBN 2-02-001077-1
  • Fiesta (1995), ISBN 2-221-08213-3
  • Solo, Editions (2000), ISBN 2-226-00331-2


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