Sunday, March 30, 2008
She stole Michael's heart, then vanished
Simonetta Stefanelli is now 53. She has opened a boutique in Rome, presumably to sell the handbags and shoes that she designs. Who, you may well ask, is Stefanelli and why should you care? I'll get to that in a second.
I've seen Stefanelli countless times, but never gave her much thought until yesterday when I happened to watch a few minutes of a "Godfather" marathon on AMC and got one of those cravings that insists on knowing the whereabouts of an obscure name from the movie past.
Stefanelli, as all "Godfather" aficionados will recall, played Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, the young beauty Michael Corleone married while hiding in Sicily after killing Sollozzo, the Turk, and Capt. McCluskey, the corrupt New York City police officer. That's why you may care -- or at least be curious -- about Stefanelli's fate.
Stefanelli was 17 when "The Godfather" was shot. Perhaps "filmed" is a better word. She didn't hang around the movie long. Apollonia died when a bomb exploded in the car she was driving as a way of impressing Michael, her new husband. Anyway, I couldn't recall ever having seen Stefanelli again.
So it was off to the Internet in search of the woman whose beauty struck Michael Corleone like a thunderbolt.
Of course, Stefanelli had a life. Still does. According to Wikipedia, she married Michele Placido, an Italian actor and director and made movies In Italy until 1992, although none received much -- if any -- exposure in the U.S. Stefanelli and Placido divorced in 1994, after having three children. A daughter, Violante Placido, became an actress. About a year ago, a rumor spread that Stefanelli had died of cancer. Not true.
I have no idea what her aspirations might have been, but Stefanelli did not become an international star, though she appeared in a movie that ranks as one of the best ever. Anyone been to Simo Bloom on Rome's Via Chiana? That's her shop. I imagine a visit would afford an opportunity to see how the beauty of 17 has blossomed and matured, as well as to leave many Euros behind.