Anita Pallenberg, actress, model, and former girlfriend of Rolling Stones’ co-founders Brian Jones and Keith Richards died on Tuesday, June 13th. She was 73 years old.
The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and various papers in England wrote of her death, reporting that it was first announced on Instagram by her friend Stella Schnabel, the daughter of painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel. No cause of death was given.
It was 1965 when Pallenberg, born to German and Italian parents in occupied Rome, first met the Rolling Stones, backstage at a concert in Munich. After spending that night with Brian Jones, they began dating. That relationship, which quickly turned abusive, lasted for two years. After witnessing a particularly ugly scene in Morocco in 1967 between Brian and Anita, Keith Richards intervened and took Anita with him back to England. She and Richards began a romantic relationship that lasted 12 years, before ending in 1979. During that time, they had three children, son Marlon (born 1969), daughter Angela (born 1972) and another son, Tara Jo Jo Gunne (born 1976) who died 10 weeks after birth of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
As an actress, Pallenberg was in numerous films over the course of four decades. She starred opposite Mick Jagger in the 1970 film, Performance. Pallenberg also appeared alongside Jane Fonda in 1968’s Barbarella, directed by Roger Vadim. She played the role of the sleeper wife of Michel Piccoli in Dillinger Is Dead (1969), as well as James Cobern’s possessive nurse in the cult film Candy (1968). Also in 1968, Pallenberg appeared in Jean Luc-Godard’s Rolling Stones documentary, Sympathy For the Devil.
Later in life, she studied fashion design and resumed her acting career, guest starring with Marianne Faithfull on the British television series Absolutely Fabulous in 2001 and in Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely in 2007.
In late 1992, I attended a party held at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in Manhattan’s East Village. Not just any party, this gathering was to celebrate the publication of the Victor Bockris biography of Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards. While Keith wasn’t in attendance, two of his ex-lovers were. And there I was, a young(ish) Midwestern man-boy, standing in between them, Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg, struggling to make small talk. I don’t recall the conversation, which tells me it wasn’t much of one, but I did light up weeks later when I received the Poetry Project’s monthly newsletter. Then-staffer Gillian McCain had a New York Post Page Six-style article about the party and there was my name in boldface type, between the names of two of the biggest stars in the Stones galaxy. Those were heady times, indeed.