Erika Blanc (real name: Enrica Colombatto) was born on 23 July 1942 in Gargnano sul Garda (Brescia, IT). She lived the first years of her 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 actors, and when a child's role is needed, it is little Enrica who takes part.
After the war, her father 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 Erika learned 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, Erika 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 without giving it too much importance. Back in Italy 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, Erika 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. In 45 days we were at the altar».
Together with the director, she initially moved to Paris, where he do a little business 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 some shows. «I had learned an erotic number in Switzerland, they immediately took us. If they had known mine!» - recalls Erika.
At the suggestion of another grandmother, of Piedmontese origins, she adopts the latter's surname, Blanc (very common in the Franco-Italian areas adjoining Mont Blanc), in the pseudonym of Erica (initially with "c") Blanc.
The couple moves again. Now in Milan, where Erika still works as a model. Later they leave for Rome, where she come to 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 variety of Gegè Di Giacomo. This time she invented a number where she dances with her husband, holding a little bird on her shoulder. Back in Rome, she resumed the path of photo-novels.
This is certainly not the comfortable life of a diva of the variety: «I was hungry, I went ahead to cappuccinos and I smoked Alfa (cheap cigarettes)». 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.
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 077: intrigo a Lisbona by Aicardi and Demicheli. Thereafter the roles that are offered to her, from a simple figurant, are always more conspicuous.
She finds her place in the emerging vein of Italian horror cinema thanks to the director Massimo Pupillo who wants her in 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 Riusciranno i nostri eroi a ritrovare l’amico misteriosamente scomparso in Africa? (1968), and above she affirms herself also as protagonist of a sort of portrait-film, Io, Emmanuelle (1969) by Cesare Canevari.
Without the help of a patron, that is a producer, and relying solely on her abilities acquired in the field, therefore without an actor school preparation, she inaugurates alike a thriving cinema season, above all of genre, which will lead her to appear in many movies, but often trapped, in a certain sense, 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, which will follow 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 her firstborn was born, Barbara, 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 with him.
The Seventies are the richest in cinema events. From the bests, she interprets the Giallo La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (1971) by Emilio P. Miraglia and the Italo-Belgian cult horror La terrificante notte del Demonio (1971) by Jean Brismée. The lesser known, but equally interesting erotic thrillers, follow: 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 Hexen geschändet und zu Tode gequält a.k.a. Le streghe nere (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 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 her name, but there is a reason: Diana Sullivan to pay homage to a film she liked when she was 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 the «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 her, the producer and former actress Lorraine De Selle, who offered her a part in the TV series Carabinieri; she will work there for seven 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 includes 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).
She 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 celebrated diva abroad (Germany, England) and 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, alias "Bornic", a famous painter from Maderno (Brescia), who died in 2017.
This biography is the result of personal research as the summary of many sources, newspaper articles, interviews, quotes and cross-references.
- Agente 077 missione Bloody Mary (as Erika Bianchi) .... Heston's secretary
- Agente S03 operazione atlantide (as Erika Blank) .... Malvina
- Colorado Charlie (as Erika Withe) .... Saloon singer
- Da 077: intrigo a Lisbona (as Erica Bianchi) .... Girl seen on surveillance screen
- La vendetta di Lady Morgan (as Erika Blanc) .... Lillian
- 1000 dollari sul nero (as Erika Blanc) .... Joselita Rogers
- Degueyo (as Arika Blank) .... Danger City townswoman
- Django spara per primo (as Erika Blanc) .... Lucy
- Il terzo occhio (as Diava Sullivan) as Laura / Daniela
- Le spie uccidono in silenzio (as Erika Blanc) .... Pamela Kohler
- Operazione paura (as Erika Blanc) .... Monica schuftan
- Tecnica di una spia (as Erika Blanc) .... Erika Brown
- Un milione di dollari per sette assassini (as Erika Blanc) .... Anna
- Feuer frei auf Frankie a.k.a. Per 50.000 maledetti dollari (as Erika Blank) .... Maud Taylor
- La più grande rapina del west …. Jenny
- L'uomo dal pugno d'oro (as Erika Blanc) .... Linda Moore
- Tom Dollar (as Erika Blanc) .... Lady Barbara Crane
- 7 volte 7 (as Erika Blanc) .... Unfaithful wife
- Gangsters per un massacro (as Erika Blanc) .... Elizabeth Hillary
- Il magnifico Tony Carrera (as Erika Blanc) .... Antonella Arnaldo
- La vendetta è il mio perdono (as Erika Blank) .... Joanna
- Riusciranno i nostri eroi a ritrovare l'amico misteriosamente scomparso in Africa? (as Erika Blanc) .... Geneviève
- Spara Gringo spara (as Erica Blanc) .... Jocelyn
- Testa di sbarco per otto implacabili (as Erika Blanc) .... Denise
- Così dolce... così perversa (as Erika Blanc) .... Danielle Reynaud
- Io, Emmanuelle (as Erika Blanc) .... Emmanuelle
- C'è Sartana... vendi la pistola e comprati la bara! (as Erika Blanc) .... Trixie
- Con quale amore, con quanto amore (as Erika Blanc) .... Sandra
- Prima ti perdono... poi t'ammazzo (as Erika Blanc) .... Martha Walton
- L'uomo più velenoso del cobra (as Erika Blanc) .... Leslie Garden
- La casa delle mele mature (as Erika Blanc) .... Woman at the party
- La terrificante notte del demonio (as Erika Blanc) .... Lisa Müller
- Amore e morte nel giardino degli dei (as Erika Blanc) .... Azzurra
- L'amico del padrino (as Erika Blanc) .... Jenny
- La mano lunga del padrino (as Erika Blanc) .... Sabina
- La rossa dalla pelle che scotta (as Erika Blanc) .... The redhead
- Scansati... a Trinità arriva Eldorado (uncredited) .... Mexican girl at festival
- Bella, ricca, lieve difetto fisico, cerca anima gemella (as Erika Blanc) .... Rosaria Fiore
- Bruna, formosa, cerca superdotato (poster credit as Erika Blanc) .... Bruna
- El juego del adulterio (as Erika Blanc) .... Alice Harris
- Giorni d'amore sul filo di una lama (as Erika Blank) .... Lidia Caselli / Renata Pavenne
- Hexen – geschändet und zu Tode gequält a.k.a. Le streghe nere (as Erica Blanc) .... Elisabeth von Salmenau
- La porta sul buio (TV mini series) - episode 4: "La bambola" (as Erika Blanc) .... Elena Moreschi
- Primo tango a Roma... storia d'amore e d'alchimia (as Erika Blanc) .... Sabina
- Tony Arzenta (as Erika Blanc) .... Decoy prostitute
- Bello come un arcangelo (as Erica Blanc) .... Immacolata
- I figli di nessuno (as Erika Blanc) .... Contessa Canali
- Il domestico (as Erika Blanc) .... Silvana
- Là dove non batte il sole (El kárate, el Colt y el impostor) (as Erika Blanc) .... American mistress
- Attenti al buffone (as Erika Blanc) .... Margot, a prostitute
- Giochi erotici di una famiglia per bene (as Erika Blanc) .... Eva
- L'ammazzatina (as Erika Blanc) .... Erika
- Una libélula para cada muerto a.k.a. Il giustiziere sfida la polizia (as Erika Blanc).... Silvana
- La padrona è servita (as Erica Blanc) .... Olga
- La portiera nuda (as Erica Blanc) .... Annie
- L'amantide (as Erica Blanc) .... Eleonora Santoro
- Io tigro, tu tigri, egli tigra - 3rd segment (as Erika Blanc) .... Italia
- Profumo di classe (TV movie) (as Erika Blanc) .... Titina
- Racconti fantastici (TV mini series) - episode 1: "Notte in casa Usher" (as Erika Blanc) .... Gas station waitress
- Carcerato (as Erika Blanc) .... Lucia
- Quando arriva il giudice (TV mini series) - episode 1: "L'uomo che sapeva troppo poco" (as Erica Blanc) .... Oscar's client
- Mak Pigreco 100 (as Erica Blank) .... Roberto's mother
- Edera (TV series) - episodes 1 - 5 (as Erika Blank) .... Signora Benti
- Misteria (as Erika Blanc) .... Dr. Corti
- Papà prende moglie (TV mini-series) - episodes 1,5,6 & 7 (as Erica Blanc) .... Francesca's mother
- Leo e Beo (TV mini-series) (as Erica Blanc) .... Elide
- Le fate ignoranti (as Erica Blanc) .... Veronica, Antonia's mother
- Francesco (TV mini-series) (as Erica Blanc) .... Monna Piva