A short Pier

Okay, that was unkind. Italian actress Pier Angeli, born Anna Maria Pierangeli on this day in 1932, was five feet tall, maybe. Still, she’s gotten short shrift from The Industry; twice this century Hollywood has seen fit to have someone portray her, and both times they were showing the few months she spent as James Dean’s girlfriend. They met while she was filming The Silver Chalice in 1954, and she remembered the affair this way:

We used to go together to the California coast and stay there secretly in a cottage on a beach far away from prying eyes. We’d spend much of our time on the beach, sitting there or fooling around, just like college kids. We would talk about ourselves and our problems, about the movies and acting, about life and life after death. We had a complete understanding of each other. We were like Romeo and Juliet, together and inseparable. Sometimes on the beach we loved each other so much we just wanted to walk together into the sea holding hands because we knew then that we would always be together.

Then again, Pier married singer Vic Damone later than year, and Dean may have been a switch-hitter anyway.

Pier Angeli with The Silver Chalice

Pier Angeli with other works of art

Pier Angeli celebrates 1958

“Anema e core” means “Soul and heart,” more or less, though this 1950 song is not the one you likely know as “Heart and Soul.” Pier recorded the song in 1958 for an album simply called Italia.

And while I’d love to tell you she was celebrating her 86th birthday today, she never made it to forty: in the fall of 1971, she was found dead in her Beverly Hills home, victim of an accidental overdose of barbiturates.


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