Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 402. Photo: La Fotominio. Gianna Terribili Gonzales as Loulou and Victor Varconi as William in L'uomo più allegro di Vienna/The Most Cheerful Man in Vienna (Amleto Palermi, 1925).
Gianna Terribili Gonzales, pseudonym of Giovanna Terribili in Gandolfi was born in Marino in 1882. Terribili was of noble descent: she was a countess.
She started out on stage in 1908. It seems that Enrico Guazzoni discovered her for the Cines company, for which she did a small part in Fiore selvatico (Enrico Guazzoni, 1909).
She appeared in various films, also in substantial parts such as the dancer in Il fiore del deserto (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911), and the queen in I Maccabei/Judas Maccabaeus (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911). Then Guazzoni valorised her in Gerusalemme liberata/The Crusaders (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911).
She also played Madame Roland in Guazzoni’s eponymous film, Madame Roland (Enrico Guazzoni, 1912), paired with Emilio Ghione. Ghione was her regular film partner in 1911-1912, together with Amleto Novelli and Gustavo Serena.
From Summer 1912 Terribili was the protagonist in several films of Roma Film including Nanon (1912), Il buttero/A Woman's Whim (1913), and Una figlia d’Eva (1913). She was often paired with Goffredo Mateldi, while she also starred in the Film d’Arte Italiana production Le due rivali di Trianon (1912).
April 1913 she returned to Cines, wherein 1913-1914 Guazzoni gave her major parts in half-long and long feature films. It was in particular in epics set in Antiquity that Terribili starred, first of all in when playing the role of Cleopatra opposite Amleto Novelli as Marc Anthony in Marcantonio e Cleopatra/Antony and Cleopatra (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913). The film, which still exists today, is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same title, with inspiration also drawn from a poem by Pietro Cossa.
Marcantonio e Cleopatra/Antony and Cleopatra (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913) meant her international breakthrough, and provided her with new roles in Guazzoni’s historical films Cajus Julius Caesar/Julius Caesar (Enrico Guazzoni, 1914) and Scuola d’eroi/How Heroes are Made (Enrico Guazzoni, 1914), set in Napoleonic times. In a popularity poll by the Naples-based magazine Film in 1914, Terribili was considered the fourth-best actress after Lyda Borelli, Francesca Bertini, and Maria Carmi.
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 32. Photo: Cines. Amleto Novelli as Marc Anthony and Gianna Terribili Gonzales as Cleopatra in Marcantonio e Cleopatra/Antony and Cleopatra (Enrico Guazzoni, 1914). The film was launched in Germany as Die Herrin des Nils, Antonius und Kleopatra and in the USA as Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
German postcard by B.K.W.I., no. 34. Photo: Cines. Gianna Terribili Gonzales as Cleopatra enjoying herself in Marcantonio e Cleopatra/Antony and Cleopatra (Enrico Guazzoni, 1914).
The noble mother
Gianna Terribili Gonzales left Cines in April 1914 to launch her own company Terribili, later called Eletta Film. She became manager of it, but the company closed down without making any film. In 1915 she tried again with the company Aurora Film, resulting in three modest films, directed by Umberto Morteo.
In 1916-1917, she acted in two films by Milanese companies including Tigrana (Edouard Micheroux de Dillon, 1916) by De Rosa Film. In 1917, she founded a new company, Fausta Film, and acted in its first film, Le memorie di un pazzo (Giuseppe De Liguoro, 1917).
In 1918 she starred in Malacarne by actor-director Dillo Lombardi, and in 1919 she co-acted with Pepa Bonafé in the Medusa production Incantesimo (Ugo Gracci, 1919) which was well received by the Italian press. In 1920 she did one film at the Paris company of Naples, while at Gladiator Film she did various dramas, including the ‘policier’ L’assassinio del Jokey (Gian Paolo Rosmino, 1920) and the melodrama Il canto di Circe (Giuseppe De Liguoro, 1920).
Afterward, Terribili was considered too old to play the young lover anymore and had to satisfy with parts like the noble mother. She returned to Cines, where she had her last part as the protagonist in L’eredità di Caino (Giuseppe Maria Viti, 1921), opposite Achille Vitti, but afterward, she became a supporting actress to divas at Cines, Caesar and Guazzoni Film.
Thus she was the magician Mirit in Guazzoni’s Messalina (Enrico Guazzoni, 1923) starring Rina De Liguoro. She also had major parts in La gerla di papà Martin (Mario Bonnard, 1923), Savitri Satyavan (Giorgio Mannini, 1923) starring Rina De Liguoro, and Amleto Palermi’s L’uomo più allegro di Vienna/The Most Cheerful Man in Vienna (1925) starring Ruggero Ruggeri, Victor Varconi and Maria Corda.
Her last part was that of a Danish princess in Augusto Genina’s comedy L’ultimo Lord/The Last Lord (Augusto Genina, 1926), starring Carmen Boni. Gianna Terribili Gonzales played in a total of almost fifty films between 1911 and 1925. After retiring from the cinema she married and had five children. In 1940, she died at the age of 58 in Rome.
Spanish chromo by Chocolate Pi, Barcelona, no. 1 of 3. Photo: J. Verdaguer, Barcelona / Milano Films. Gianna Terribili Gonzales in Tigrana (Edouard Micheroux de Dillon, 1916). This adventure film was scripted by the future filmmaker Giovacchino Forzano. Her co-actors were Franz Sala, Sergio Tofano and Annibale Betrone.
Spanish chromo by Chocolate Pi, Barcelona. Photo: J. Verdaguer, Barcelona / Milano Films. Gianna Terribili Gonzales in Tigrana (Edouard Micheroux de Dillon, 1916).
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines. Gianna Terribili Gonzales and Achille Vitti in L'eredità di Caino (Giuseppe Maria Viti, 1921). In addition to these two, also Nerio Bernardi and Elena Sangro were part of the main cast. The film premiered at the Teatro-Cinema del Corso in Rome on 13 March 1922.
Sources: Aldo Bernardini (Cinema muto italiano protagonisti - Italian), Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.