At age 15, when most young women are nurturing dreams of romance, Olivia Hussey was giving life to Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968). Her performance in one of the most celebrated roles ever written in the English language won her the Golden Globe and two successive Best Actor Donatello Awards (Italy’s Oscar equivalent), an incredible achievement for an actress in only her third film.
Olivia, a seasoned veteran of the London stage where she debuted opposite Vanessa Redgrave in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”, has appeared in over two dozen films, including Death on the Nile (1978) with Bette Davis and Peter Ustinov, Jesus of Nazareth (1977) (united again with the great Zeffirelli), Last Days of Pompeii (1975) opposite Sir Laurence Olivier, Lost Horizon (1973), The Bastard (1978), Hallmark’s Hall of Fame Ivanhoe (1982) with James Mason, Showtime’s Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990) and It (1990). She has also guest-starred in numerous television series.
Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, Olivia may owe this “title” to her “exotic” blend; her father was Argentinian and her mother was of English and Scottish ancestry. She spent her early youth in Buenos Aires, her father being Andreas Osuna, aka Isvaldo Ribo, renowned Argentine opera and tango singer, and her English mother encouraging her early inclinations for the performing arts. At the age of seven, she moved with her mother and younger brother to England, where she spent the next five years attending drama school. From there, she landed the role of “Jenny” in “Jean Brodie”. It was in that theater production that Zeffirelli spotted her. After auditioning over 500 other young actresses for the part of Juliet, he awarded the part to Olivia, and the rest, as they say, is history.
She then moved to Los Angeles, where she met and married Dean Paul Martin, son of the late and great entertainer Dean Martin. They had a son, Alexander Martin, who is now an actor. She and Martin eventually divorced, and Olivia later married Akira Fuse, one of Japan’s premier singers. That marriage produced a second son, Max, born in 1983. Two years later, she signed on to star with Burt Lancaster and Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire (1981)) in The Jeweller’s Shop (1988), a screen adaptation of a story written by Pope John Paul II (at the time he wrote it he was called Karol Wotyla). Following the filming, Olivia was invited to view the film at the Vatican as a guest of His Holiness.
Never seeming to be able to stop the constant work schedule and travel, Olivia finally decided she needed a break. After taking some much deserved time off for herself and to raise her young daughter, India Joy, she returned to work starring in two back-to-back features. The first, El grito (2000) (known as “Bloody Proof” in America), was shot in Mexico City and required her to deliver the role bilingually, applying her native command of Spanish. The second was Tortilla Heaven (2007), a comedy written and directed by Sundance Film Festival winner Judy Hecht Dumontet, in which Olivia plays the town nudist(!).
Most recently, Olivia has completed her life’s dream, portraying Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a movie shot entirely on location in Sri Lanka and Italy. Her performance was received with open arms by the Sisters of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity when it was screened for them in Italy. Also present at the screening, and pleased with her portrayal, was Agi Bojaxhiu, a wonderful lady and the niece and only direct living relative of Mother herself.
Olivia lives outside of Los Angeles with her family, as well as her menagerie of animals.
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