Death of a porn star to be investigated by Italian prosecutor

The voluptuous blond Roman actress, who first attained fame in the Fellini film Ginger and Fred in 1985, rivalled Ilona Staller, "La Cicciolina", for notoriety in a country rapidly shaking off centuries of close clerical control of its sexual mores.

The films she churned out were hard-core bump and grind, but in a peculiarly Italian way she succeeded in parlaying this unedifying career into mainstream fame. She appeared regularly, fully dressed, on an afternoon programme for children, until forced to withdraw by protests from their mothers. And she progressed seamlessly to the role of commentator on chat shows and political discussion programmes, called in to give her views on everything under the sun. In 1993 she appeared on the catwalk in Milan, modelling for Karl Lagerfeld.

Her scandalous career was an ongoing nightmare for her rigidly Catholic family. And their distaste for her fame is one reason why rumours about where and how she died, and indeed whether she did really die, have refused to go away.

She was still at the height of her fame and, as far as her public was aware, of her beauty when on 17 September 1994 the news arrived that Moana Pozzi had died, at the age of 33, in a clinic in Lyons, of liver cancer. There was nothing to substantiate the claim, no witnesses of her last hours, no photographs, no grave with her name on it. There were three accounts, all conflicting, of how and where her ashes had been disposed.

Rumours sprang up that she had not died at all but had tired of her frantic lifestyle and chosen to make a new life - perhaps in a convent - with a new identity. Such stories have followed her name ever since.

But with the publication recently of a book on her demise by Brunetto Fantauzzi, the former head of her fan club, Rome's public prosecutor has decided that her death requires investigation.

Mr Fantauzzi told Il Messaggero newspaper: "Shortly before she died, Moana intimated to me that she had the intention of giving up her work... She was afraid that the decision could create problems because a lot of money was banked on her. In my book I don't claim that Moana is alive; I only ask that somebody demonstrate how she died."

But family members and friends of Pozzi are furious about the inquiry. Mauro Biuzzi, the executor of her will, said: "No judge has called me; all the papers relating to her death were submitted in 1994. This is nothing but a publicity stunt, adding suffering to suffering, and the family has already suffered enough from this sad spectacle."

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