Anna Magnani (1908-1973)
Anna Magnani was born in Rome on 7th March 1908.
Daughter of Marina Magnani, seamstress, and father unknown.
She grew up with her grandparents and aunts in a house between the Capitol and the Palatine Hill, living a peaceful childhood despite the distance from her mother who left her in their care to go to Alexandria with her new husband.
He became passionate about the piano, attending the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia for a while, where he studied as a concert pianist. Her encounter with acting, on the other hand, was entirely coincidental: she started at the ‘Eleonora Duse’ school of dramatic art, directed by Silvio d’Amico, in 1924 and was soon noticed and engaged in Dario Niccodemi’s company.
Between 1926 and 1932, after a period of apprenticeships, minor parts and very long tours, the fame and importance of his roles on stage began to grow. Following this period, he turned to the more popular and spontaneous avant-garde theatre, which was instrumental in his growth and artistic eclecticism.
Her relationship with Goffredo Alessandrini, director, whom she married in October 1935, also dates back to these years.
In the meantime, sound cinema opened its doors to her, but it was not until 1941 that she achieved her first big success, as the star of Teresa Venerdì under the direction of Vittorio De Sica. This was followed a few years later by winning his first Silver Ribbon in Roberto Rossellini’s Roma città aperta (1945), with whom he formed an intense artistic and private partnership.
The pinnacle of her worldwide fame came in 1956, when she was the first Italian female lead actress to win an Oscar, for her performance in Daniel Mann’s film La rosa tatutata (1955).
There were many other films in which he took part, among them Bellissima (1951) by Luchino Visconti, Saggio è il vento (1957) by George Cukor, Mamma Roma (1962) by Pierpaolo Pasolini and Roma (1972) by Federico Fellini.
Nannarella was an actress endowed with uncommon humanity and spontaneity: with her mimicry and particular somatic and verbal traits, she was able to embody both the deepest despair and the lightest hopes of the post-war period, which neo-realist cinema intended to portray, thus becoming an emblem.
He died in Rome, fifty years ago, on 26th September 1973.
You can consult the birth certificate on the Ancestors Portal: Archivio di Stato di Roma > Stato civile italiano > Roma > 1908
It should be noted that the deed presents the declaration of birth made by the mother alone, following her “natural union with an unmarried man, not related or kin to her in the degrees that preclude recognition”. It is no coincidence that the birthplace indicated is the maternity nursery at 126 Via Salaria, a place where pregnant women in difficulty or single mothers were protected and supported in giving birth to their children.
On the side is the chancellery note reporting the celebration of the marriage with Goffredo Alessandrini in Rome on 3rd October 1935.
The original is kept at the State Archives of Rome.
For more on the figure of Anna Magnani, see the entry in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani edited by Giorgio Pangaro.