Aug 23, 2023, 06:29AM

The Strange Death of Sylvia Bucci

The wife of an Italian filmmaker dies just two days after the death of her own daughter—one night in Rome, 1969.

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ROME—Sylvia Bucci, the wife of an Italian film director named Enzo Bucci, was found dead yesterday by a group of students near Monteverde. Natalia Simino, 19, said she was on her way back from class with a number of friends when she saw the body of the deceased floating in the River Tiber. Another witness, 18-year-old Massimo Cosi, said he saw Mrs. Bucci’s body “hit a rock” on her way, causing her to wash up onto the banks of the river. The students allegedly rushed up and tried to revive the woman via CPR—all six of them, even the women—but Mrs. Bucci was pronounced dead on arrival at UPMC. Despite traveling a significant distance down the River Tiber, Mrs. Bucci’s body was not badly decomposed, and a positive identification was made by her husband, Enzo Bucci, her only living survivor.

It is suspected Mrs. Bucci committed suicide after the violent murder of her daughter Laura, although no comments from the family or their representation have been made available to the press at this time. Although Bucci’s films are not often celebrated by critics or financially successful, the double death in his immediate family has been met with an outpouring of grief from the Italian filmmaking community.

Federico Fellini was asked during a promotional interview for his film Satyricon. He apparently hadn’t heard about either Laura or Sylvia—and he started sobbing uncontrollably, to the point that the interview had to be rescheduled for the next day.

The typically aloof Michelangelo Antonioni sent a telegram from Southern California, where he’s currently shooting his follow-up to Blow-Up, tentatively titled Zabriskie Point. He had this to say about the deaths of the Bucci girls: “To make a film, to compose a shot, call actors, rehearse dialogue, on a day this dark is too perverse for me to consider. But money must be spent for money to be made. I will be working all day in the hot California sun. Laura and Sylvia Bucci will never see another day. I will never complain about my responsibilities ever again.”

Pier Paolo Pasolini: “What can one say? Nothing. Time waits for no one. This is the absolute truth. Enzo, I do not know him, nor his films, but this is a tragedy beyond colleagues—it’s a human disaster, a spiritual fascism taking its revenge on the weakest members of our ranks. But people put themselves into risky situations every day.”

Sylvia Bucci started her career right after the war as a model, moving quickly from cigarette commercials and detergent spreads to film and television, making her biggest impression in The Fugitive Kind opposite Marlon Brando, directed by acclaimed American filmmaker Sidney Lumet. Bucci quickly garnered a reputation as being “difficult” in Hollywood, and her career in America was cut short by a 1966 LSD arrest and a plea bargain that nearly cost her custody of her daughter Laura, who was killed just three days ago.

She excelled in the Italian film industry during her brief career, appearing in productions by Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, Sergio Martino, and Antonio Marghereti. Her belated marriage to Enzo in 1967, 15 years after the birth of their daughter, caused a minor scandal in the Roman entertainment press, only minor because the individuals involved were considered too insignificant for further coverage, much like this case.

The deceased was examined and found to have cut her wrists, in addition to abrasions around her throat and arms. Suggestions of spousal abuse or foreign struggle have been ruled out by Italian authorities at this time due to the limited interest in either case.

Enzo Bucci did not respond to comment for this story, nor any others. His representation insists he remains at home, “in mourning.”

Translated from the original Italian by Bennington Quibbits (pay me, Monica).

—Follow Monica Quibbits on Twitter: @MonicaQuibbits


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