WCW: Isabella Rossellini


We have sort of an unhealthy obsession with Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini here at Frock Flicks, so it’s amazing that it’s taken us this long to feature her on a Woman Crush Wednesday post. Isabella Rossellini is the daughter of the eternally luminous Ingrid Bergman and the critically acclaimed neo-realist director, Roberto Rossellini. Those of us of a certain age grew up with her as the face of Lancôme cosmetics between 1982 and 1994. At 63, she’s recently returned as their spokesmodel (a far cry from when she was fired at 44 for being “too old”).

Another reason to love her is that Rossellini has a whole other life away from acting that is focused on environmental activism, and she is the current director of the Howard Gilman Foundation, which is dedicated to the promoting the arts and wildlife conservation. In 2015, she released the documentary Green Porno, exploring the mating habits of animals. It may sound random, but it’s actually a really fascinating show. To recap, she’s fabulous, gorgeous, talented, smart, and fierce as hell.

But, of course, the the primary reason why we are all so in love with Isabella Rossellini is because of her incredible costume film portfolio. So, without further ado, here’s her highlight reel!

1991 The Siege of Venice

In 1991, Rossellini appeared in Caccia alla vedova (English title: The Siege of Venice) as Rossana, a woman who is widowed on her wedding day.


1992 Death Becomes Her

Ok, so it’s not strictly an historical costume flick, but I love this movie beyond all reason, so it’s going in the list. Death Becomes Her (1992), as Lisle Von Rhuman, the immortal mistress of the beautiful and famous who never want to grow old and die.


1993 The Innocent

In 1993, she starred in The Innocent, a post-WWII noir mystery.


1994 Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp (1994) saw her starring alongside Kevin Costner as Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday’s common-law wife cum Hungarian prostitute.


1994 Immortal Beloved

She played the Countess Anna Marie Erdödy in Immortal Beloved (1994), and officially had the best hair ever.


1996 The Funeral

The Funeral (1996), another noir-crime genre film, this time set in the 1930s.


1996 Crime of the Century

Also in 1996, and also set in the 1930s, Crime of the Century deals with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, murder, and subsequent trial. Rossellini plays Anna Hauptman, wife of the alleged kidnapper.


1998 The Odyssey

Here she is portraying the goddess Athena in the short lived series The Odyssey (1998).


1998 Merlin

Here she is in another 1998 role as Nimue in Merlin, opposite Sam Neill.


2000 Don Quixote

Rossellini starred in the TV miniseries Don Quixote (2000) as The Duchess.


2002 Napoleon

In 2002, she played Empress Josephine in Napoleon. I really want to adjust that tiara, though…


2003 The Saddest Music in the World

Set during the Great Depression, The Saddest Music in the World (2003) has Rossellini staring as Lady Helen Port-Huntley, a beer heiress who decides to hold a contest to discover — you guessed it — the saddest music in the world.


2003 The Tulse Luper Suitcases

The Tulse Luper Suitcases (2003) looks like an amazing costume flick… If you can get past the whole Peter Greenaway craziness that’s layered throughout. I wish there were better shots of Isabella’s costumes online, because now I’m going to have to brave the insanity and watch it. :P


2006 Infamous

In 2006, she played Marella Agnelli, Neopolitan aristocrat and Truman Capote’s BFF in Infamous.


2011 Chicken With Plums

Chicken With Plums (2011), a French film based on a graphic novel of the same name and centered on the life of famous musician Nasser Ali Khan. Rossellini plays Nasser-Ali’s mother, Parvine.


There’s a final film that I can’t track down photos of, Silent Life (2016), in which Isabella Rossellini plays Rudolph Valentino‘s mother, Gabriella. Can’t wait for this one to hit the U.S. market at some point!


What’s your favorite film starring Isabella Rossellini? Share it with us in the comments!

6 Responses

  1. hsc

    Thanks for this post! Love, love, love Isabella Rossellini, and I’m so happy you included “Death Becomes Her”. (“NOW a warning?!?!?”)

    I also love that she’s worked with three of the most “out there” directors– David Lynch (and she was actually involved with him for a while), Guy Maddin, and Peter Greenaway.

  2. Susan Pola

    I love them all, but my favourite is Immortal Beloved. She’s luminous in it. And imho she looks like her mother.

  3. Saraquill

    Aww, no “Big Night?” Food porn and Rossellini, what’s there not to like?

  4. SarahV

    I always thought it was an act of genius to cast her as Athena in the miniseries the Odyssey! I just love her so very, very much.

  5. Victoria Hannah

    I know this is old but I do have to put in my favorite Isabella roles. One of them is period and is listed here. Athena in the miniseries the Odyssey. I think of her whenever I imagine Athena.

    The other two roles aren’t period at all but I do love David Lynch so I have to mention: Dorothy Valens in Blue Velvet a stirring, complex, and emotional portrayal and Perdita Durango in Wild at Heart, a woman not wholly what she seems to be.