Brazilian actress, director Norma Bengell died from lung cancer today October 9, 2013 in a hospital in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. She was 78.
Noma Bengell was born Norma Aparecida Almeida Pinto Guimarães D’Áurea Bengell in Rio de Janeiro on February 21, 1935. She began performing as a showgirl in vaudeville at age 16. She was also a singer and recorded several LPs.
She became active in the film industry in 1959, Bengell appeared in numerous international productions, during an extended period of time during the mid-1960s co-starring in Italian productions, in which she was usually cast as the leading man’s romantic interest. She is possibly best known for starring with Barry Sullivan in Mario Bava's “Planet of the Vampires” (1965) and in Sergio Corbucci's spaghetti western “The Hellbenders” (1966). She had a major role as a prostitute in Anselmo Duarte's “Keeper of Promises” (1962), a Brazilian drama that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1963 and won the Golden Palm at Cannes Film Festival in 1962. Earlier that same year, she caused a major controversy after appearing nude in a scene of the Ruy Guerra film “Os Cafajestes”. For that, she is regarded as the first mainstream actress of her country to appear fully naked on film. Norma also appeared in one other Euro-western “Fedra West” (aka “I Do Not Forgive… I Kill!”) in 1967.
In 1987, she directed her first film, Eternamente Pagu, a biography of Patrícia Galvão. In 1996, she directed an adaptation of José de Alencar's novel The Guarani called also The Guarani. She was married to actor Gabriele Tinti [1932-1991] from 1963-1969.
In recent years she was in ill health and financially ruined she lived in poverty off of charity and government assistance.