Erika Blanc in La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (1971)
Erika Blanc (real name: Enrica Colombatto) was born on 23 July 1942 in Gargnano sul Garda (Brescia). She lived the first years of his childhood in the hamlet of Villa di Gargnano. The family has distant Swedish origins. The father Roberto, one of the founders of the famous "Centomiglia sailing regatta", performs in a company of amateurs and when a child's role is needed, it is little Enrica who takes part.
After the war, the Colombattos sold the small house in which they lived for little money and, at the suggestion of a shrewd Valtellina grandmother - dedicated to a small smuggling and living in France - moved to the Pyrenees, where Enrica learned the languages: French and Spanish. While her father moves on as an expert on plant grafts, assisted by his wife, the quiet Hilda, her brother Alessandro becomes an instrumentalist and after having tried in vain to have her study music, he finds work as a conductor at the Casino Barrière Montreux in Switzerland.
After completing the studies in Geneva, Enrica first found a job as a company secretary and then in a fashion magazine as a model designer. There she begins to be photographed, but she doesn't care.
Back on Lake Garda, she worked as a brushing machine in a hairdresser's shop, which she later found with her family. One day the documentarian Bruno Gaburro passes through the town, sees her and is struck by her beauty. Of their meeting, she remembers: «He began to leave me notes. I didn't even answer. I was twenty years old, I liked the show: Elvis Presley, James Dean, Renato Carosone. But I was at the nightclub to applaud my brother ... I saw what happens to artists when things don't work. Career too short. It definitely didn't attract me. The director insisted: "Can you take a walk with me?" My parents were categorical: "Only here, on the lakefront". Three days later he asked me to marry him. Time 45 days and we were at the altar».
Together with the director, she initially moved to Paris, where he made ends meet photographing tourists with a Polaroid received as a gift from a friend, while she became a model for Marie Claire. They then find work alongside Carosone's drummer, as a presenter and dancer in the curtain raiser. «I had learned an erotic number in Switzerland, they immediately took us. If they had known mine!» - recalls the artist.
At the suggestion of another grandmother, of Piedmontese origins, she adopts the latter's surname, Blanc (a family very common in the Franco-Italian areas adjoining Mont Blanc), in the pseudonym Erica Blanc.
The couple moves again. Now in Milan, where Erica still works as a model. Later they leave for Rome, where she arrives in the world of photo-novels. At the beginning of the Sixties, she received a working proposal as a soubrette in the historic Teatro 2000 in Naples, temple of the Neapolitan scene, for the magazine of Gegè Di Giacomo. In this way he invented a number where he danced with her husband, holding a little bird on her shoulder. Back in Rome, she resumed the path of photo-novels.
Her is certainly not the comfortable life of a diva of the variety: «I was hungry, I went ahead to cappuccinos and I smoked Alfa» - she said smiling. While strolling through the streets of the city, a gentleman approaches her, giving her a role - which she then knew to be that of a cocaine addict - in a De Laurentiis production for a film by Tinto Brass (Il disco volante - 1964); an offer which, however, must refuse, given the commitments previously made with the photonovels.
But it is only a matter of time before the cinema begins to notice her. And in fact, the following year, she begins to appear with some small parts in the espionage films Agente 077 missione Bloody Mary by Sergio Grieco, Agente S 03: Operazione Atlantide by Domenico Paolella and Da 077: intrigo a Lisbona by Aicardi and Demicheli. From shortly thereafter the roles that are offered to her are always more conspicuous and from a simple figurant, she is raised to cover. She finds its place in the emerging vein of Italian terror cinema thanks to Massimo Pupillo who wants her in the film La vendetta di Lady Morgan (1965), followed by Operazione Paura (1966) by Mario Bava, a film reviewed with praise by the famous American magazine "Variety" and which gives her the international claim. On the wave of success, she appears with a small role in Ettore Scola's film Riusciranno i nostri eroi a ritrovare l’amico misteriosamente scomparso in Africa? (1968), and above all she affirms herself as the protagonist of Io, Emmanuelle (1969) by Cesare Canevari, a portrait-film in which she rises to the role of sex-symbol.
Without a manufacturer's guarantee to cover her back and relying solely on her abilities, she inaugurates a thriving cinema season, above all of genre, which will lead her to appear in more than 100 productions, as a willing and never repetitive actress, though trapped, in a certain sense, in her character of "red haired femme-fatale", in a labyrinth made of "minor" productions.
She ended the Sixties in beauty, taking part in Umberto Lenzi's “turbid” Giallo, Così dolce… così perversa (1969) with Carroll Baker and Jean-Louis Trintignant. We also recall the numerous westerns, such as Spara, Gringo, spara (1968) by Bruno Corbucci, Django spara per primo (1969) by Alberto De Martino, C’è Sartana… vendi la pistola e comprati la bara (1970) by Giuliano Carmineo, I senza Dio (1972) by Roberto Bianchi Montero and Là dove non batte il sole (1974) by Antonio Margheriti.
On August 3, 1970 the daughter Barbara was born (future actress and protagonist of the youth cult-movie Sposerò Simon Le Bon - 1986). A few years later, Erika will leave her director husband, remaining on excellent terms anyway.
The Seventies are the richest in cinema events. She interprets the thrilling La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (1971) by Emilio P. Miraglia, the Italo-Belgian cult horror movie La terrificante notte del Demonio (1971) by Jean Brismée, from the bests, and the erotic thrillers La rossa dalla pelle che scotta (1972) by Renzo Russo, Amore e morte nel giardino degli Dei (1972) by Sauro Scavolini, Giorni d’amore sul filo di una lama (1973) by Giuseppe Pellegrini, and the German film on inquisitions and torture Le streghe nere, a.k.a. Hexen geschändet und zu Tode gequält (1973) by Adrian Hoven.
She then took part in the emerging trend of erotic cinema, moving from comedy-sexy to films with higher eros content: from Primo tango a Roma… storia d’amore e d’alchimia (1973) by Lorenzo Gicca Palli, to Bruna, formosa, cerca superdotato (1973) by Alberto Cardone; from Bello come un arcangelo (1974) by Alfredo Giannetti, with Lando Buzzanca, to Lʻammazzatina (1975) by Ignazio Dolce; from Giochi erotici di una famiglia per bene (1975) by Francesco Degli Espinosa, to La portiera nuda (1976) by Luigi Cozzi; from La padrona è servita (1976) by Mario Lanfranchi to L’amantide (1977) by Amasi Damiani.
In those years, like many divas of her period, she appeared in many fashion and show magazines, in particular on the well-known monthly “Playmen” (on the cover of the January 1974 and November 1975 issues) and “Playboy Italia” (on the cover of September 1978).
In 1978 she met her future life and work partner, the actor Alberto Lionello, with whom she lived until 1994 (the year of his death), also growing as a theatrical actress and alternating texts of commitment to others of the "light" repertoire; among the many shows that bring together on stage, we must mention: "L'anatra all’arancia", "Il prigioniero della seconda strada", "Tramonto", "Il piacere dell’onestà", "Divorziamo!", "Monsieur Ornifle" and "Il mercante di Venezia". She also works alongside Marcello Mastroianni in the show "Le ultime lune", alongside Gianfranco D'Angelo in "Il padre della sposa", with Garinei and Giovannini in "Amori miei", with Strehler in Le Balcon and Squarzina in "Il Volpone".
At the cinema she often changes its name, but there is a reason: Diana Sullivan to pay homage to a film she liked as a young girl, The Fighting Sullivans (1944), while for Erika Blanc she adopted a nice alteration for the consonants: Erika Blank with two "K" for less "noble" films; Blanc if she liked the film; and then Erica Blanc on the stage: «There were better Cs, the theater is more" Cultured».
In the eighties and nineties she rarely attends cinema and TV. She is remembered in Sogno di una notte d’estate (1983) by Gabriele Salvatores, a revival of the well-known Shakespearean novel in a young-musical version. Already from the first décade, her appearance becomes more masculine and thus, unbeknownst to her, she becomes a gay icon, so much so that in the Neapolitan capital there is a known trans called "Erica Blanc", who also manages to meet.
Since the 2000s she has lived a sort of second artistic youth, thanks to the film Le fate ignoranti (2001) by Ferzan Ozpetek - director who will call her to act also in Cuore Sacro (2005), together with her friend and colleague Lisa Gastoni. For participating in this latest film, she was awarded the "Flaiano International Award for Best Supporting Actress", receiving a David di Donatello nomination for "Best Supporting Actress", the Special Golden Globe «for her intense performance» and a nomination to the Nastro d'Argento for best supporting actress.
The following year she was contacted by a friend of hers, the producer and former actress Lorraine De Selle, who offered her a part in the Carabinieri fiction; she will work there for sven years (from 2002 to 2008), in the role of Mrs. Gemma, thus becoming once again a beloved face even for the largest television audience. Meanwhile, with the films Ilaria Alpi – Il più crudele dei giorni (2002) by Ferdinando Orgnani and Poco più di un anno fa (2003) by Marco Filiberti, she receives a double nomination for the Nastro d’Argento for Best Supporting Actress.
Her most recent works include collaborations with Pupi Avanti (Una sconfinata giovinezza - 2010, Il cuore grande delle ragazze - 2011, the TV movie Il bambino cattivo - 2013), Sergio Castellitto (La bellezza del somaro - 2010) and Giorgia Farina (Ho ucciso Napoleone - 2015).
He interpreted the short films La visita (2011) by Marco Bolla and Una vacanza estrema (2012) by Valentina Di Iorio, her personal documentary-video-portrait. In May 2018 she won the "Best Actress Short Section Italy" award at the Prato Film Festival, for La Cura, by Angelo Frezza.
In recent years, thanks to the rediscovery of Italian genre cinema, she has become a very celebrated diva abroad (Germany, England), she is invited to participate in festivals dedicated to her, where she talks about her cult films of the past.
In her private life she cultivated a strong passion for animals: she owned dogs, cats, a goat and a pony. Her favorite habit is to smoke a pipe, a weakness she learned at the age of eight, stealing it from her grandfather in secret. After having lived for many years in the hills of Val Tidone (Piacenza), she recently moved to Calino (Brescia), where she assists a relative: «I learned during the illness of Alberto, to become a nurse» - she declared.
Her uncle was Piero Righettini, aka "Bornic", a famous painter from Maderno (Brescia), who died in 2017.
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