Posted in 1910s, 1920s, Movies, Silent film

Lidia, Letizia, and Isabella Quaranta

Lidia Gemma Mattia Quaranta (6 March 1891–5 March 1928) was born in Turin. Her little sisters Letizia and Isabella (twins) were also actors. Lidia got started acting in the legendary Dante Testa’s theatre company, which performed in Piedmontese.

In 1910, Itala Film hired Lidia and Letizia, though Lidia made her film début for Aquila Films, a short called L’ignota (The Unknown Woman in English). Most Aquila films were mystery- and crime-themed, and promoted very sensationalistically. Their strong ties with French and British distributors enabled commercial success abroad.

Lidia débuted for Itala Film in 1911, with Cleo e Filete, and made over a dozen films for them, mostly shorts. She also acted for several other early Italian film companies.

Her breakthrough role came in 1914, when she was cast as the title character of epic production Cabiria, set in Sicily, Carthage, and Cirta (now Constantine, Algeria) during the Second Punic War. This grand film spectacle runs almost two and a half hours.

Cabiria also introduced long-running film character Maciste, who appeared in over two dozen films during the silent era, and was revived for 25 more films from 1960–65. Two final Maciste films followed in 1973.

Lidia became a superstar, and acted in sixteen more films between 1914–20. She earned an unheard-of salary of 10,000 lire a month at her popularity peak, making her Italy’s highest-paid female actor.

Lidia’s work became more sporadic after 1920. Her final film was in 1925.

She contracted pneumonia in Turin in early 1928, and passed away the day before her 37th birthday.

Letizia Beatrice Giuseppina Angela Quaranta (30 December 1892–9 January 1977) was the next-most prolific of the three Quaranta sisters. She began acting in 1913, through Lidia’s influence, and became very popular.

One of her directors, Carlo Campogalliani (10 October 1885–10 August 1974), was so impressed by her, he married her in 1921. They moved to Rome, and later to Argentina. For the rest of her life, Letizia only acted in films directed by Carlo.

Several of her films were Maciste films.

Isabella Maria Rosa Teresa Quaranta (30 December 1892–3 April 1975) was the least-prolific of the three sisters. In comparison to superstar Lidia and frequently-requested Letizia, Isabella only acted from 1912–17.

In spite of her rather short career, Isabella nevertheless starred in some significant films, such as Romanticism (1915), directed by her famous brother-in-law, and A Masquerade in the Sea (1917).

When she was hired in 1912, Itala Film described her as “a brilliant actress.”

Author:

I started reading at three (my first book was Grimm's Fairy Tales, the uncensored adult version), started writing at four, started writing book-length things at eleven, and have been a writer ever since. I predominantly write historical fiction family sagas/series. I primarily write about young people, since I was a young person myself when I became a serious writer and didn't know how to write about adults as main characters. I only write in a contemporary setting if the books naturally go into the modern era over the course of the decades-long stories being told over many books. I've always been drawn to books, films, music, fashions, et al, from bygone eras, and have never really been too much into modern things. If something or someone has appeal for all time, it'll still be there to be discovered after the initial to-do has died down. For example, my second-favorite writer enjoyed a huge burst of popularity in the Sixties and Seventies, but he wrote his books from 1904-43, and his books still resonate today, even after he's no longer such a fad. Quality lasts for all time.

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