“Control” by Dan Behar, Digital, 2019
OLIVIA HUSSEY (1951 - )
“Performers are the neediest people in the world. Unless you’ve been in that goldfish bowl - nobody can judge unless they’ve worn those shoes.”
Hussey was born Olivia Osuna in Argentina. Her parents divorced when she was 2 years old. At age of seven, Hussey moved with her mother and younger brother to London where she spent the remainder of her early life.
In London, she attended drama school for five years. At the age of 13, she began acting professionally in theaters. In 1968 she appeared on the London stage as Jenny in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. During the run of this play, Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli first spotted her because of her beauty and theatrical skill.
At 15, she was chosen out of 500 actresses to star as Juliet in Zeffirelli’s film version of Romeo and Juliet, opposite Leonard Whiting’s Romeo. Today this movie is known to be the most financially successful film adaptation of a Shakespeare play of all time.
It was popular not only among movie critics, but also among teenagers partly because it was the first film to use actors who were close to the age of the characters from the original play.
After a huge success of Romeo and Juliet, Hussey moved to Los Angeles. There, she met and married Dean Paul Martin, son of Dean Martin. They had a son, Alexander Martin, who is now an actor. Hussey and Martin eventually divorced.
In 1985 Olivia signed on to star with Burt Lancaster and Ben Cross in The Jeweler’s Shop, a screen adaptation of a story written by Pope John Paul II. Following the filming, Olivia was invited to view the film at the Vatican as a guest of His Holiness.
In 1987, Hussey appeared in a clip for the Michael Jackson video Liberian Girl, among others, who also included Steven Spielberg, John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, and Whoopi Goldberg. In 1990, Hussey appeared in two horror projects: a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and in the miniseries It, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel.
In 2015 Hussey and Leonard Whiting reunited as on-screen partners in Social Suicide, the only film that they both appeared in since Romeo and Juliet. In 2018 Olivia Hussey released her autobiography The Girl on the Balcony: Olivia Hussey Finds Life After Romeo and Juliet.