by Letizia Cini
“Throughout my life I have met also very unpleasant men. But in the 60s-70s it was unthinkable to react and report“. Catherine Spaak he had confided to him as a guest of the transmission ‘Verissimo’, in 2018. The actress of Belgian naturalized Italian origin, muse of many directors in the history of cinema, in particular between the sixties and seventies, and then protagonist as a presenter of the small screen in several programs, it went out on Easter dayat the age of 77 in Rome, in the clinic in via Carlo Poerio, after a long illness.
Dancer and singer, she had been hit by one cerebral hemorrhage in 2020. Refined and with that French accent that made her cold and unattainable, Catherine Spaak had confessed several times to having suffered during her acting career some harassment: “I’ve never suffered anything scary, but certainly yes – her words in Silvia Toffanin’s living room -. I remember years ago I told it in an interview and afterwards many colleagues called me to tell me that I was the only one to have suffered those things because nothing had ever happened to them. More than twenty years passed before we could talk about it. It is good that it can now be done, but I survived very well anyway ”.
Among the confidences that of not having been confirmed at the management of ‘Forum‘why, he said, he had not accepted the advances of a Mediaset executive… “Already in the 70s I denounced this state of affairs – he emphasized -, and it caused a stir. But the fellow actresses said it just happened to me. Unfortunately this attitude involves the women themselves ”. She then revealed that her then-husband Johnny Dorellim had once also received an ‘indecent proposal’: “To have permission to court me, shall we say, he was offered a paper mill. He relaunched: ‘two paper mills’ “.
The #metoo to the microphones of ‘I Lunatici’
The next year Catherine Spaak he spoke of #metoo to the microphones of ‘I Lunatici’, on Rai Radio2, he said: “When the scandal exploded I was not surprised, I had already talked about this problem years before, but many colleagues had replied that it had never happened to them nothing. There was a lot of silence, no female solidarity – she had said -. I have had problems, like all women who do this job and beyond, because the problem affects all women in all environments, not just in the cinema. When I arrived in Italy I was very young, I didn’t speak a word of Italian, I was in an unknown country. The films lasted a long time, it was a big effort ”.
“Italy was very different from France – Catherine Spaak’s story in ‘I Lunatici’ -, everyone was amazed that at 15 I had arrived alone, my freedom was almost unlikely. As for women, the rules were different from the French ones, they dreamed of freedom, they dreamed of driving licenses, they dreamed of going out at night and staying late, but in Italy the life of girls my age was difficult, there were strict parents, rules to be observed, were supervised and not very independent “.
“I thought that cinema was inhabited by people who were open, free, with a certain mentality, but instead in Italy it was not like that – he continued -. There were hard rules, the way of shooting was different from today, on the set there were thirty forty men among all those who worked while the actress, the seamstress and the editing secretary were women, so it was a world of men, with the rules of men and a safe ed evident misogyny. They were different times than today, at least in part “.
OnBrancaleone Army: “For me, shooting that movie was a terrible time. On set I could hardly hold back the tears. They were all men, there were few women in the film and when I was on the set I was alone. They made fun of me, men then when they are in a group they become even worse than they are alone. There was bullying mea very difficult thing for one to handle young woman“.
The stalking nightmare
In 2002 Catherine Spaak he had known the nightmare of stalking, in Rome, ended only when the police arrested a 58-year-old man who for two months had transformed the days of the actress and TV presenter into constant torment. Exasperated and worried, she the actress had decided to report what she was happening to the police, saying that she had met the man, who then began to torment her, during a meditation course.
Some work setbacks had prevented her from completing the sessions of the course and at first “that kind gentleman” had worried that she was not well. Then, after a few days, the man, a manager of a company, had changed his attitude. Thus began the insistent intercom calls, then the phone calls at home, on the cell phone and the stalking wherever she was. At first, Catherine Spaak explained, he was just obsessive, then came the vulgar and obscene proposals, the insults and humiliations. A tension that culminated in outright harassment. The agents, however, were hiding near the Spaak house, and having seen everything, they had arrested the man on charges of private and sexual violence and telephone harassment.
The origins and the cinema
Catherine Spaak was born on April 3, 1945 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. His family, full of prominent artists and politicians, including his uncle Paul-Henri who had been prime minister several times, was originally from Belgium. She arrives in Italy very young and stands out at the age of 15 in 1960 in Alberto Lattuada’s ‘Dolci inganni’. The role of a restless teenager, covered on that occasion, will also accompany her in other films such as “Eighteen in the sun”, “Overtaking“,” The boredom “,” The warm life “,” The parmigiana “,” The mad desire “. The director Monicelli chose it for his film “The Brancaleone Army” with Vittorio Gassman. She got married at 18 with Fabrizio Capucci. Their daughter Sabrina was born from their union and became a theater actress. The following year Catherine Spaak obtained the Gold Plate for the David di Donatello. In the Italy of the sixties she also emerges as a singer and she reaches the top of the Hit parade with some successful singles. In 1962 on the set of ‘The mad desire’ she met Fabrizio Capucci, whom she married in 1963 and from whose union, short-lived, she was born Sabrina, a theater actress. In the television musical “The Merry Widow” she meets Johnny Dorelli. The two married in 1972: Gabriele was born from the couple, before their separation in 1979. From 1993 to 2010 she was married to the architect Daniel Rey and from 2013 to 2020 with Vladimiro Tuselli.
Career on TV
From the seventies onwards, the cinema was accompanied by a television career, in addition tojournalistic activity with collaborations with Corriere della Sera, Amica and TV Sorrisi e Canzoni. From 1985 to 1988 he conducted the first three editions of Forum as part of Buona Domenica on Canale 5. His biggest television success was the talk-show “Harem”, conducted for 15 editions on Rai 3. After the broadcast “The dream dell’angelo “conducted in 2002-2003 on LA7, Catherine Spaak appears on TV only as a guest in some programs, such as” Dancing with the stars “or” The island of the famous “.