Sandra Milo, who played mistress in Federico Fellini’s ‘8½,’ dies at 90

Sandra Milo, a fixture of Italian cinema who played sensual hedonists in Federico Fellini’s internationally celebrated films “8½” and “Juliet of the Spirits,” died Jan. 29 at her home in Rome. She was 90.

Her family announced the death but did not provide a cause.

The buxom Ms. Milo first came to notice with a supporting role in the comedy “Lo Scapolo” (1955), starring Alberto Sordi as a womanizing bachelor. She was a prostitute with a heart of gold in director Roberto Rossellini’s well-reviewed “Il Generale Della Rovere” (1959), a film set in World War II that starred Vittorio De Sica as an unlikely resistance hero.

She went on to appear in European-produced dramas and comedy romps before her signature performance in “8½” (1963), winner of the Oscar for best foreign language film. Ms. Milo played the uninhibited mistress of the main character, a crisis-ridden and philandering movie director portrayed by Marcello Mastroianni and modeled in part on Fellini.

“Federico was a director who knew how to enchant, and how to enchant me,” the Italian newspaper La Repubblica quoted Ms. Milo as saying. “He drew out the best in everyone, talents we didn’t even know we had. Everyone wanted to work with him.”

Two decades later, Ms. Milo recounted her real-life love affair with Fellini in her book “Caro Federico.” The relationship, said to have begun during the filming of “8½,” lasted 17 years.

Fellini later cast Ms. Milo opposite his wife, actress Giulietta Masina, in the 1965 film “Juliet of the Spirits” in another flamboyantly sexual role.

In addition to dozens of later screen roles, Ms. Milo became a staple of Italian television as a talk-show host. In 1990, she was the victim of an on-air prank that went down in Italian television history as a tasteless precursor to reality TV’s “Punk’d.”

While Ms. Milo was hosting a talk show on RAI, a prankster called in and told her that her son, Ciro, had just been hospitalized after a serious car accident. Believing the caller, Ms. Milo fled the studio wailing “Ciro, Ciro!” only to subsequently learn that her son was fine and that she had been tricked.

Ms. Milo — whose name at birth has variously been reported as Elena Salvatrice Greco, Salvatrice Elena Greco and Elena Liliana Greco — was born in Tunis on March 11, 1933, to a Sicilian father and a Tuscan mother.

Her marriages to Cesare Rodighiero and Ottavio De Lollis, with whom she had two children, ended in divorce. Survivors include her children. In an obituary, La Repubblica quoted her as saying that Fellini had been “the greatest love” of her life.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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