Isabella Rossellini

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Isabella Rossellini
Isabella Rossellini.jpg
Rossellini on location at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin to shoot some scenes for the film The Innocent, 1992
Born Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini
(1952-06-18) 18 June 1952 (age 61)
Rome, Italy
Years active 1976–present
Children 2

Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini (born 18 June 1952) is an Italian actress, filmmaker, author, philanthropist, and model. Rossellini is noted for her 14-year tenure as a Lancôme model, and for her roles in films such as Blue Velvet and Death Becomes Her.

Background and early life[edit]

Rossellini is the daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini. She has three siblings from her mother: her twin sister Isotta Ingrid Rossellini, who is an adjunct professor of Italian literature; a brother, Robertino Ingmar Rossellini;[1] and a half-sister, Pia Lindström, who formerly worked on television and is from her mother's first marriage with Petter Lindström. She has four other siblings from her father's two other marriages: Romano (died at age nine), Renzo, Gil, and Raffaella.[2]

Rossellini was born in Rome, and raised there, as well as in Santa Marinella and Paris. She underwent an operation for appendicitis at the age of five.[3] At 11, she was diagnosed with scoliosis.[4] In order to correct it, she had to undergo an 18 month ordeal of painful stretchings, body casts, surgery on her spine using pieces of one of her shin bones (used to add supports for the individual vertebrae without risking foreign body rejection issues), and a recovery from that surgery.[citation needed] Consequently, she has permanent incision scars on her back and shin.

At 19, she went to New York, where she attended Finch College, while working as a translator and a RAI television reporter.[citation needed] She also appeared intermittently on L'altra Domenica ("The Other Sunday"), a TV show featuring Roberto Benigni. However, she did not decide to stay full-time in New York until her marriage to Martin Scorsese (1979–1982).

Rossellini with David Lynch at the Cannes Film Festival



At the age of 28, her modeling career began, when she was photographed by Bruce Weber for British Vogue and by Bill King for American Vogue. During her career, she has also worked with many other renowned photographers, including Richard Avedon, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh, Norman Parkinson, Eve Arnold, Francesco Scavullo, Annie Leibovitz, Denis Piel, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Her image has appeared on such magazines as Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and ELLE. In March 1988, an exhibition dedicated to photographs of her, called Portrait of a Woman, was held at the Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris.

Rossellini's modeling career led her into the world of cosmetics, when she became the exclusive spokesmodel for the international cosmetics brand Lancôme in 1982, replacing Nancy Dutiel in the United States and Carol Alt in Europe. At Lancôme, in 1990, she was involved in product development for the fragrance Trésor. In 1996, she was removed as the face of Lancôme for being "too old", since she was in her 40s at the time.

In October 1992, Rossellini modelled for Madonna's controversial book Sex. Rossellini also appeared in Madonna's music video for her successful Top 5 hit song "Erotica" released that autumn.

In 1995, Rossellini worked with the Coty Group and developed her own brand of cosmetics, Isabella Rossellini's Manifesto. She is signed to Trump Model Management.[citation needed]

Film and television[edit]

At the 2005 Torino Film Festival

Rossellini made her film debut with a brief appearance as a nun opposite her mother in the 1976 film A Matter of Time. Her first role was the 1979 film Il Prato. In 1980 she appears on Renzo Arbore's film Il pap'occhio, with Martin Scorsese. She did not become successful with acting until after her mother's death in 1982, when she was cast in her first American film, White Nights (1985). She is probably best known for her pivotal role as the tortured nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, in which she also did her own singing. Some other notable film roles include her work in Cousins, Death Becomes Her, Immortal Beloved, and Fearless.

In 2003, Rossellini had a recurring role on the television series, Alias. In that same year, she also appeared in the Canadian film The Saddest Music in the World directed by Guy Maddin. In 2004, she played the High Priestess Thar in the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Legend of Earthsea. In addition, she acted in an Off-Broadway production of The Stendhal Syndrome. She became an ambassador for the Silversea Cruise Line, which has her appearing in print ads and on their website.[5]

In 2006, Rossellini appeared in several television documentaries. First, she narrated a two-hour television special on Italy for the Discovery Channel's Discovery Atlas series. In addition, on an episode of the Sundance Channel series Iconoclasts, which also featured the Segway PT inventor Dean Kamen, she told about her past and current activities.[6] In 2007, Rossellini guest starred on two episodes of the television show 30 Rock, playing Alec Baldwin's character's ex-wife.[7] She also appeared on an episode of the TV series Friends in 1996 as herself in The One With Frank Jr.

In 2008, Rossellini toured the festival circuit, including the Sundance Film Festival, with a series of short films entitled Green Porno, which she wrote and co-directed with Jody Shapiro. Each Green Porno film is two minutes long, and has Rossellini reenacting the mating rituals of various animals.

Rossellini was announced as the President of the Jury for the 61st Berlin International Film Festival in 2011.[8]

She played the role of Gabriella Guglielmi-Valentino in Silent Life, released in 2012.


Rossellini received a 1987 Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her role in Blue Velvet. In 1997, she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for her role in Crime of the Century and an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on the television series Chicago Hope. Also in 1997, Rossellini was awarded The George Eastman Award.[9] In 1998, she received an Honourable Mention at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival for her role in the film Left Luggage.[10] At the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival she is to be awarded with the Berlinale Camera.[11]


Rossellini is involved in conservation efforts. She is a board member of the Wildlife Conservation Network,[12] and president and director of the Howard Gilman Foundation, a leading institution focused on the preservation of wildlife, arts, photography and dance.[13][14] She received $100,000 from Disney to help with her conservation efforts in those two organizations.[15] She has also helped with the Central Park Conservancy,[16] and is a major benefactor of the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society of Bellport, Long Island, where she is a part-time resident.[17]

Rossellini is involved in training guide dogs for the blind.[18][19] She is a former trustee of the George Eastman House and a 1997 George Eastman Award honoree for her support of film preservation.[20] She is also a National Ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.[21]


Rossellini has written three books—her self-described fictional memoir, Some of Me (1997), Looking at Me (on pictures and photographers, 2002), and In the name of the Father, the Daughter and the Holy Spirits: Remembering Roberto Rossellini (2006), accompanied by the Guy Maddin-directed short film My Dad Is 100 Years Old (both the film and the book are tributes to her father). In the film, she played almost every role, including David Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock, and her mother Ingrid Bergman.

In 2008, Rossellini wrote a number of television shorts on the Sundance Channel called Green Porno. The short segments (about two minutes each) are written, hosted and acted out by Rossellini. She has written a book to accompany the third season—a multimedia experiment that contains a companion DVD, both of which serve as additional information for the series' third season.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Rossellini holds dual Italian and United States citizenship.[5][23]

She was married to Martin Scorsese from 1979 to 1982.[24] After her marriage to Scorsese ended, she married Jon Wiedemann (1983–1986), a Harvard-educated model from Texas (now a Microsoft executive).[25] Later, she dated David Lynch,[26] Gary Oldman, and Gregory Mosher.[27]

She has a daughter, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann (born 1983), and a son, Roberto (born 1993).[28]

She has always lived near her twin sister Isotta (aka Ingrid), whether while growing up in Rome or in New York City. Consequently, her twin sister's children Tommaso and Francesca grew up closely with their cousins Elettra and Roberto.



Year Title Role Notes
1976 A Matter of Time Sister Pia
1979 Il Prato Eugenia
1980 Il Pap'occhio Isabella
1985 White Nights Darya Greenwood
1986 Blue Velvet Dorothy Vallens Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
1987 Tough Guys Don't Dance Madeleine Regency Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress
1987 Siesta Marie Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress
1988 Zelly and Me Mademoiselle Zelly
1989 Cousins Maria
1989 Red Riding Hood Lady Jean
1990 Wild at Heart Perdita Durango
1990 Dames Galantes Victoire
1990 Ivory Hunters Maria DiConti Television movie
1991 Caccia Alla Vedova
1991 Lies of the Twins Rachel Marks Television movie
1992 Death Becomes Her Lisle von Rhoman Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993 The Pickle Planet Cleveland Woman Uncredited
1993 The Innocent Maria
1993 Fearless Laura Klein
1994 The Gift Television movie
1994 Wyatt Earp Big Nose Kate
1994 Immortal Beloved Anne Marie
1995 Croce e delizia Henriette
1996 Crime of the Century Anna Hauptmann Television movie
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1996 Big Night Gabriella
1996 The Funeral Clara
1997 The Odyssey Athena
1998 Left Luggage Mrs. Kalman
1998 The Impostors The Veiled Queen
1998 Merlin Nimue Television movie
2000 Don Quixote The Duchess Television movie
2000 Il Cielo cade Kathcen
2002 Empire La Colombiana
2002 Roger Dodger Joyce
2003 The Tulse Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story Mme. Moitessier
2003 The Saddest Music in the World Lady Helen Port-Huntley Nominated—Chlotrudis Award for Best Actress
2003 Monte Walsh Countess Martine Television movie
2004 The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 2: Vauz to the Sea Mme. Moitessier
2004 Heights Liz
2004 Legend of Earthsea Thar Television movie
2005 La Fiesta Del Chivo
2005 My Dad Is 100 Years Old Herself
2006 The Architect Julia Walters
2006 Infamous Marella Agnelli
2006 Infected Carla Plume Television movie
2006 Filthy Gorgeous Antonia Television movie
2007 The Last of Jews of Libya
2008 The Accidental Husband Mrs. Bollenbecker
2009 Two Lovers Ruth Kladitor
2009 My Dog Tulip Ms. Cavenenini
2010 The Solitude of Prime Numbers Adele
2011 Keyhole Haycinth
2011 Chicken with Plums Parvine
2011 Silent Life Gabriella
2011 Late Bloomers Mary
2013 Enemy Adam's mother


Year Title Role Notes
1989–1990 The Tracey Ullman Show Mae 3 episodes
1993 Fallen Angels Babe Lonsdale Episode: "The Frightening Frammis"
1995 Tales from the Crypt Betty Spinelli Episode: "You, Murderer"
1996 Friends Herself Episode: "The One with Frank Jr."
1997 Chicago Hope Professor Marina Giannini 2 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
1999 The Simpsons Astrid Weller Episode: "Mom and Pop Art"
2002 Napoléon Joséphine de Beauharnais 4 episodes
2004–2005 Alias Katya Derevko 5 episodes
2007 30 Rock Bianca Donaghy 2 episodes
2008–2009 Green Porno Male Bee 18 episodes
2009 The Phantom Dr. Bella Lithia 2 episodes
2012 Treme Theresa Episode: "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say"
2013 The Blacklist Floriana Campo Episode: "The Freelancer"

Video game[edit]


  1. ^ Mocci, Alessia (18 June 2010). "Isabella Rossellini: Happy Birthday!!! 18 giugno 2010". Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  2. ^ MacNab, Geoffrey (6 September 2004). "Like Father...". Guardian Unlimited (London: Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  3. ^ "Ingrid and Daughter have Tearful Reunion". The Miami News. 8 July 1957. 
  4. ^ Rossellini, Isabella (1997). "Deformity". Some of Me. Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-45252-2. 
  5. ^ a b "News: Actress Isabella Rossellini Joins Silversea". Cruise Critic News: Cruise Reviews and News. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  6. ^ "Episode 4: Isabella Rossellini + Dean Kamen". Iconoclasts: change the way you see celebrity. Sundance Channel L.L.C. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  7. ^ Season 1, episodes 12 "Black Tie" and 13 "Up All Night".
  8. ^ "Isabella Rossellini to head Berlin Film Festival jury". BBC News. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  9. ^ List of award recipients at Eastman House web site
  10. ^ "Berlinale: 1998 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  11. ^ "Berlinale Camera 2013 for Isabella Rossellini and Rosa von Praunheim". Berlinale. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  12. ^ "About WCN". Wildlife Conservation Network. Wildlife Conservation Network, Inc. Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  13. ^ "Foundation Announces 2 New Grant Programs". The New York Times. 21 February 2002. 
  14. ^ "Famous Conservationists: Isabella Rossellini". Animal Planet. Discovery Communications. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  15. ^ "Environmentality: Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund". Disney Worldwide Outreach. Disney. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  16. ^ "Power Play - July 2004 - Isabella Rossellini". Park and Recreation Magazine. National Recreation and Park Association. Retrieved 2007-01-29. [dead link]
  17. ^ Mead, Julia C. (24 August 2003). "EXHIBITS; How the Gruccis' Pyrotechnics Grew". New York Times (NYT). Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  18. ^ "Puppy Program". Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  19. ^ Dobnik, Verena (28 December 2004). "Rossellini gains new insight from guide dog training". Chicago Sun-Times (The Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.). Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  20. ^ "Press Room: Isabella Rossellini visits Eastman House May 1". George Eastman House: International Museum of Photography and Film. George Eastman House. 2006-03-29. Archived from the original on 1 October 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  21. ^ "News Releases: Angela Bassett, Alyssa Milano, Isabella Rossellini, Liv Tyler and Courtney B. Vance appointed National Ambassadors for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF". United States for UNICEF. United States Fund for UNICEF. 18 November 2003. Retrieved 2007-01-29. [dead link]
  22. ^ Richard, Michael Graham (2009-03-09). "Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno Renewed for a 3rd Season and a Book". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  23. ^ Isabella Rossellini (2001-11-06). "In Defense of Fallaci". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  24. ^ [url=""]
  25. ^ Paton, Maureen (17 October 2009). "'I don't live through my family': Isabella Rossellini's daughter Elettra Wiedemann eclipses her Hollywood heritage". Mail Online. 
  26. ^ "My Dad would be happy to know his two girls are fighting over him.". The Sydney Morning Herald. July 29, 2006. 
  27. ^ Lauerman, Connie (July 2, 1997). "Partial confession: Isabella Rossellini's new autobiography tells some but not all". Chicago Tribune. 
  28. ^ [ url=]

Further reading[edit]

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