Simonetta Stefanelli is a well-known Italian actor and entrepreneur, best known for her role of ‘Apollonia Vitelli–Corleone’ in the American international crime blockbuster ‘The Godfather.’ She started her acting career with minor roles in a number of Italian films during her early teens. Her roles were mainly in Italian-style sex comedies that were popular in those days. After her performance in ‘The Godfather,’ she received numerous offers from Hollywood which she turned down, as she feared being stereotyped as a sex symbol. She preferred to continue with her career in Italy and appeared in a number of TV serials and movies, such as ‘The King is the Best Mayor,’ ‘The Big Family,’ and ‘Moses the Lawgiver.’ She married Italian actor/director Michele Placido, with whom she has appeared in several movies. Their daughter, Violante Placido, is also an actor who made her debut with her father after Simonetta gave up acting. In 1994, Simonetta and Michele divorced, and following this, Simonetta gave up her acting career to become an entrepreneur. She opened a designer store that is now famous for its bags and footwear. Though she gave up acting a long time ago, she still has a large fan base that follows her on social media. She is recognized as an Italian celebrity entrepreneur who supplies quality products to the elite.
Childhood & Early Life
Simonetta Stefanelli was born on November 30, 1954, in Rome, Lazio, Italy. She started acting in Italian movies as a child artist and was about 16 years old when she was offered the role of ‘Apollonia Vitelli–Corleone’ in the movie ‘The Godfather.’
She was conscious of her good looks and mature body and did not want to get branded as a sex idol. Hence, she turned down offers from Hollywood and preferred to continue with Italian cinema and TV.
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Simonetta Stefanelli started acting in Italian films at the age of 14. She made her debut with the film ‘La Moglie Giapponese’ (The Japanese Wife), directed by Gian Luigi Polidoro, in 1968. In 1971, she appeared in the movies ‘Non Commettere Atti Impuri’ (Do Not Commit Adultery), ‘Homo Eroticus’ (Man of the Year), and ‘In Nome Del Popolo Italiano’ (In the Name of the Italian People). Her roles were mainly Italian-style sex comedies that were popular in those days. She soon started getting recognized internationally as an actor with great potential.
In 1972, she got her first major break with her role as ‘Apollonia Vitelli–Corleone’ in the American international crime film ‘The Godfather,’ directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring industry stalwarts such as Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. Her character was also featured in the miniseries ‘The Godfather: A Novel for Television,’ which combined ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather Part II.’ In the movie, she is blown up by a car bomb, which she later described saying, “I met him, I married him, I died.” Starring opposite Al Pacino in the movie was a great experience for the budding actor.
She also appeared in the German TV film ‘Die Sonne Angreifen,’ or ‘To Attack the Sun,’ the same year. After her performance in ‘The Godfather,’ she received many offers from Hollywood, but she turned them down as she feared that she would be stereotyped as a sex symbol. In her words, “They wanted nothing more than to expose my body.”
She took a conscious decision to continue her career in Italy and appeared in a number of TV serials and movies, such as ‘The King is the Best Mayor’ (1973), ‘The Big Family’ (1973), ‘Ho Incontrato Un’ombra’ (1974), and ‘Moses the Lawgiver’ (1974). Her performances made her an established star, and she garnered a large international as well as Italian fan base.
In 1975, she acted alongside her husband, Michele Placido, in the erotic drama ‘Peccati In Famiglia’ (Scandal in the Family). This was followed by her appearance in the award-winning movie ‘Tre Fratelli’ (Three Brothers), in 1983 and the comedy ‘Grandi Magazzini,’ in 1986. Despite her conscious efforts, she kept getting roles that required her to expose herself in front of the camera, which she was not very comfortable with.
She was still in her prime when she decided to end her acting career in 1992 with her performance as ‘Giuliana’ in Placido’s movie ‘Close Friends.’ The movie was featured in the ‘Quinzaine des Réalisateurs’ section at the 1992 ‘Cannes Film Festival.’ A year later, her daughter, Voilante Placido, entered show business with the role of ‘Valeria’ in the movie ‘Quattro Bravi Ragazzi,’ alongside her father.
After giving up her acting career, she chose to be an entrepreneur and opened a fashion boutique, known as ‘Simo Bloom,’ in Rome. The boutique soon became famous for its designer shoes and purses. She is still in touch with show business personalities and events because of her ex-husband and daughter.
Her films include ‘Non Commettere Atti Impuri’ (1971), ‘In the Name of the Italian People’ (1971), ‘The Godfather’ (1972), ‘The Big Family’ (1973), ‘Scandal in the Family’ (1975), ‘Three Brothers’ (1983), and ‘Close Friends’ (1992).
She has appeared in the TV serials ‘Ho Incontrato Un’ombra’ (1974), ‘Moses the Lawgiver’ (1974), ‘The Godfather: A Novel for Television’ (1977), ‘Quer Pasticciaccio Brutto de via Merulana’ (1983), and ‘Non Basta Una Vita’ (1988).
Presently, she mostly remains busy with her fashion boutique, ‘Simo Bloom.’
Awards & Achievements
Simonetta Stefanelli achieved a lot of fame with the international blockbuster, ‘The Godfather.’ Though the movie won a number of awards, Simonetta did not receive any award for her performance in the movie.
Personal Life & Legacy
She married Italian actor/director Michele Placido, with whom she has appeared in several movies. They have three children. Their daughter, Violante Placido, took up acting after her mother left the entertainment scene. The other two children are her sons Michelangelo and Brenno Placido.
She got divorced from Placido in 1994, and Placido went on to get married again. Stefanelli moved to London with her children for a while and began living with her restaurateur boyfriend. She chopped off her long black tresses and turned blond to sport a new look after her divorce. Presently, she lives in Rome.
There were rumors about her death in 2005, which again surfaced in 2008. However, she is hale and hearty and living a normal life.
Simonetta posed for ‘Penthouse’ magazine in 1973 and became a youth sensation at that time.