Marisa Mell

Marisa Mell (born Marlies Theres Moitzi; 24 February 1939 – 16 May 1992) was an Austrian actress. Appearing in films across Europe in the sixties, she suffered a setback in the failure of an American musical. She settled in Italy where her high profile love life and long association with Pier Luigi Torri, a playboy later to become one of the most wanted fugitives in the world, made her familiar to readers of tabloid press stories about the European jet set and elite Rome nightclubs. Mell was typecast as a resilient femme fatale. In reality, she was a vulnerable figure who suffered from bad luck and ill-judged personal choices. In the eighties, she was forced to relocate back to Austria. Isolated, with a long standing drug problem having taken an obviously heavy toll on her health she subsisted in straitened circumstances in her last years before dying in Vienna aged 53 years old. Her best regarded film is the critically re-assessed Danger: Diabolik.[1]

Marisa Mell
Mell during the filming of Danger: Diabolik (1968)
Marlies Theres Moitzi

(1939-02-24)24 February 1939
Died16 May 1992(1992-05-16) (aged 53)
Spouse(s)Henri Tucci (1959-63; divorced)


Mell left her home city of Graz to attend the Max Reinhardt drama school where her fellow students included Senta Berger. After four years in stage work, she began to appear in starring roles in European films.[1]

In 1963, she was involved in a serious automobile accident in France. For six hours, she lay unconscious, unaware that she nearly lost her right eye. The disfigurement extended to her lip as well. She spent the next two years undergoing plastic surgery, and no damage remained in her face, except for a distinctive curl of her upper lip.[1]

After the Eurospy film Secret Agent Super Dragon (1966), she secured the title role in the "utterly calamitous" musical Mata Hari alongside Pernell Roberts. A preview performance in Washington, D.C. became infamous for its numerous technical problems,and producer David Merrick decided to close the production.[2] For the rest of her life Mell had difficulty acknowledging the failure, which may have played a part in her moving to Italy where her stories of a successful Broadway run were not challenged.[3] She said had turned down a lucrative seven-year Hollywood contract because "the contract was a whole book. I think that even to go to the toilet I would have needed a permission."[3] In 1968, Mell had her best-known film role as Eva Kant in Danger: Diabolik, which was poorly received initially but has been championed by later film critics. At this time Mell was appearing in what were by Italian standards major productions that got American releases. She suffered the death of a prematurely born daughter in 1969, and was never to have another child.[3][1]

Mell's name had been romantically linked with number of European and Hollywood male stars, but in Italy she was often the centre of paparazzi stories about Rome nightlife along with her aristocratic playboy/film producer boyfriend until 1971, when he got into a series of legal difficulties and fled the country.[1] One of the most recognisable beauties in Italian film, she continued to work steadily throughout the seventies, and posed for Italian Playboy.[1] Her marketability in Italy had declined by the late eighties to the point that she was not being offered even low budget exploitation films, and she returned to Austria to live in impoverished and isolated circumstances.[1] Mell's public profile was very low by her latter years although she got some acting work shortly before her 1992 death in Vienna from throat cancer. She was 53.[1]

Selected filmography


  1. Tom Lisanti; Louis Paul (2002). Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television, 1962-1973. ISBN 1476667977.
  2. "Merrick Shoots Mata". Time. 8 December 1967. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  3. Peter Marks (24 March 2006). "A Role Rekindled". The Washington Post.
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