Childhood & Early Life
Daniela Bianchi was born on January 31, 1942, in Rome, Italy, to an Italian Army colonel, in an elite family. Her grandmother happened to be a ‘marchesa,’ an Italian noblewoman who was supposed to be next in rank to a princess. Being from an army family, she was exposed to a strictly disciplined life as a kid.
She was interested in ballet, and acting was never on her radar while she grew up. She took dance classes, but as she attained teenage, she started exploring her career options and developed the desire to participate in beauty contests.
She was crowned ‘Miss Rome’ in 1960, and the same year, she competed for the ‘Miss Universe’ title, representing her country in the global arena. Despite losing the ‘Miss Universe’ title, she won the ‘Miss Photogenic’ title at the same event. This was a start to her career in fashion modeling.
During his modeling days, she started auditioning for roles and subsequently used her recognition as a ‘Miss Universe’ contestant to become a successful actor in Italian films.
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Daniela started her acting career in 1958 with an unnamed and uncredited character in the Italian film ‘Love is my Profession.’ The film was later released in the US and fared well upon its release in the European and American countries.
She took a three-year break before she appeared on screen again with the 1961 film ‘Midnight Folly,’ where she played a supporting role. She became popular among the local audiences, following the success of the film. Soon, she was offered another major role in the film ‘Always on Sunday.’
In 1962, she played the role of ‘Elvira’ in the film ‘The Sword of El Cid.’ Such small films did not garner enough fame for her. However, her life transformed completely with the second ‘James Bond’ film, starring Sean Connery.
The film, titled ‘From Russia with Love,’ told the story of British spy ‘James Bond’ and his adventures in Russia. Daniela auditioned for the role of Soviet Consulate clerk ‘Tatiana Romanova.’ More than 200 girls appeared for the audition. After an intense auditioning process, Daniela was selected to play the role.
However, the film was not a cakewalk for Daniela or for the director Terence Young, as Daniela’s English was not very good and she hardly paid any attention to her performance. She was mostly seen eating chocolates and reading Italian novels on the set.
She became the first and the only Italian actor to have played the ‘Bond’ girl at the time. Upon the film’s release, she was universally adored, especially for her controversial intimate scene with the lead actor Sean Connery. The film became an international critical and commercial success and Daniela gained a massive worldwide fan following.
Following her success as a ‘Bond’ girl, she looked forward to a successful career in Hollywood. However, her refusal to learn English became a massive roadblock. In 1964, she made a brief three-episode long appearance in the American TV series ‘Dr. Kildare.’
In 1964, she played a leading role in the spy thriller ‘Code Name: Tiger.’ The French language film was an attempt to start a franchise on the lines of ‘James Bond,’ but its box office failure and negative critical response put an end to the hopes of the producers. The film also referenced ‘From Russia with Love’ in order to create a connection between the two films.
In 1965, Daniela played the second lead character of ‘Nadia’ in the Italian comedy ‘Snow Job.’ Daniela’s character in the film was a seductress, trying to attract two married men. The following year, she featured in another Italian comedy–drama film ‘Weekend, Italian Style.’
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In 1966, she played the leading role of ‘Mercedes’ in the heist comedy ‘Operation Gold.’ The big-budget film was a collaborative production of Italian, French, and Spanish film-production companies.
The same year, she became part of another major film, ‘Special Mission Lady Chaplin,’ which was a spy thriller. It was the third film in the franchise that was thoroughly inspired by the ‘James Bond’ series. Daniela portrayed the role of ‘femme fatale’ ‘Lady Chaplin,’ a fashion expert and a serial killer.
By the end of the year, she featured in another spy thriller, ‘Requiem for a Secret Agent,’ in which she played the lead role of ‘Evelyn.’ Around the same time, she expressed her annoyance over the fact that she continued receiving stereotypical roles from filmmakers.
She started 1967 with a leading role in the crime thriller ‘Your Turn to Die’ and followed it up with another spy thriller, the Italian spaghetti spy film ‘O.K. Connery.’ By then, she had already expressed her desire to not continue with her acting career.
She ended the year 1967 with a war film, ‘Dirty Heroes,’ where she played the female lead, ‘Kristina von Keist.’ The last feature film of her career, ‘The Last Chance,’ had her playing a leading role. By then, she was tired of show business, and the lack of variety in her roles had her leaving the industry. Her marriage is also said to have played a role in her decision to quit films at the peak of her career.
Following the success of ‘From Russia with Love,’ she had become a household name in the US and almost all her films had received fairly wide releases in the country.
After a hiatus of almost four decades, she appeared as herself in a documentary on ‘James Bond,’ titled ‘We’re Nothing Like James Bond.’
Daniela Bianchi dated a shipping tycoon, Alberto Cameli, in the late 60s and the couple got married in 1970. Following her marriage, she quit the film industry in order devote more time to her family. Soon, the couple has a son.
Despite being one of the most famous Italian actors of the 60s, she is said to have loathed the industry and never made any friends within it. Her friends were mostly architects, engineers, or executives. Following her exit from the film industry, she led a calm life in her grand apartment in Rome.