Bertini, Francesca

BORN 11 Apr 1892, Firenze, Toscana - DIED 13 Oct 1985, Roma, Lazio
BIRTH NAME Vitiello, Elena Seracini
GRAVE LOCATION Roma, Lazio: Cimitero Flaminio di Prima Porta, Clivio Tiberino (Corpo ossari-cinerari, corpo B, gruppo 8, row 6, number 1 (ashes))

Francesca Bertini was born in Florence as the daughter of an unmarried mother. After her birth she was placed in an orphanage under the name of Elena Taddei. Her background is unclear, but Adelaide Frataglioni was probably her mother and may have been an actress. When her mother married the propman or furniture dealer Arturo Vitiello her name became Elena Vitiello. She grew up in Naples.

She started acting from the age of seventeen, starting with a supporting role in "Assunta Spina" in 1909. From 1910 she appeared in silent movies. In 1915 she had an important role in Salvatore di Giacomo's movie adaption "Assunta Spina" (1915). By that time she had appeared in dozens of movies. Her acting style was realistic, opposed to the the usual dramatic style of that time.

When she was offered a Hollywood contract by Fox Film Corporation in 1920 she refused because she had met Alfred Paul Cartier (1882-1959). He was a banker from a rich Swiss family and was a former football player. They married in 1921 and she moved to Switzerland. In 1921 and they had a son, Jean. She appeared in a number of sound movies until 1934 and a few more afterwards, but her voice was feeble and her acting style outdated.

After Cartier's death in 1959 she returned to Rome. In 1976 she had a cameo as a nun in Bernardo Bertolucci's "Novocento". In 1982 Gianfranco Mingozzi made the documnentary "L'ultima diva" ("The Last Diva") about her. She died in Rome in 1985.


The grave of Francesca Bertini at the Cimitero Flaminio di Prima Porta, Rome.
Picture by Androom (22 Apr 2023)


Francesca Bertini - Wikipedia
Francesca Bertini – Women Film Pioneers Project

Bertinotti-Radicati, Teresa

Published: 18 Feb 2024
Last update: 18 Feb 2024