Anita Pallenberg

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Anita Pallenberg
Pallenberg and her son in 1970
Born(1942-04-06)6 April 1942
Rome, Italy or Hamburg, Germany
Died13 June 2017(2017-06-13) (aged 75)
Occupation(s)Actress, artist, model
Gabriel Roux
(m. 1982)

Anita Pallenberg (6 April 1942 – 13 June 2017) was a German-Italian actress, artist, and model. A style icon and "It Girl" of the 1960s and 1970s, Pallenberg was credited as the muse of the Rolling Stones: she was the romantic partner of the Rolling Stones founder, multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones, and later, from 1967 to 1980, the partner of Stones guitarist Keith Richards, with whom she had three children.

Early life[edit]

Pallenberg was born on 6 April 1942[1][2][3][4] in Rome, according to most sources. However, after her death in 2017, several news sources such as the New York Times reported that Marlon Richards had corrected her place of birth, stating that his mother had in fact been born in Hamburg.[5][6] Her parents were Arnold "Arnaldo" Pallenberg, a German-Italian sales agent, amateur singer, and hobbyist painter, and Paula Wiederhold, a German embassy secretary. The family was separated because of World War II, and she did not see her father until she was three years old. Her father, a descendant of the Pallenberg family dynasty from Cologne, who were renowned as furniture manufacturers and patrons of the arts, later sent her to a boarding school in Germany so that she would learn the language.[7] She became fluent in four languages at an early age.[8]

Pallenberg was expelled from school when she was 16, after which she spent time in Rome with the Dolce Vita crowd, and then went to New York City to hang out with Andy Warhol's Factory. She then began her career as a fashion model in Paris.[7] She studied medicine, picture restoration and graphic design without ever completing a degree.[8] Before settling in London, she had lived in Germany and Rome, as well as in New York City, where she was active in the Living Theatre, starring in the play Paradise Now, which featured onstage nudity, and Andy Warhol's Factory.[9]

Film and fashion[edit]

Pallenberg appeared in over a dozen films over a 40-year span. One of her first appearances was as the Great Tyrant in Roger Vadim's science fiction film Barbarella (1968);[10] however, the character's actual voice was dubbed by Joan Greenwood.[11] She played the sleeper wife of Michel Piccoli in Dillinger Is Dead (1969), directed by Marco Ferreri.[12] Pallenberg also had roles in the German crime thriller A Degree of Murder (1967), which featured music composed by Brian Jones; the cult film Candy (1968) as James Coburn's possessive nurse;[10] Volker Schlöndorff's Michael Kohlhaas – Der Rebell (1969), which was filmed in Slovakia; and the avant-garde Performance (1970), in which she played the role of Pherber. Performance was shot in 1968, but a nervous studio delayed its release.[10]

Pallenberg appeared in a documentary about the Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil (1968), directed by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. In an interview she gave The Independent, which published it on 16 March 2007, she related her encounters in Rome while La Dolce Vita (1960) was being filmed, with its director Federico Fellini, other filmmakers such as Luchino Visconti and Pier Paolo Pasolini, and with the novelist Alberto Moravia.[13]

In 1985, for the video of "Wild Boys," Duran Duran used a clip of Pallenberg from Barbarella. She portrayed "The Queen" in the comedy-drama Mister Lonely by Harmony Korine, and played a character named Sin in Go Go Tales (both 2007).[7]

In the 1990s, Pallenberg returned to education to study fashion. She graduated from Central Saint Martins in London in 1994 with a fashion and textile degree.[9] However, she decided not to forge ahead with a career in fashion, finding it too cut-throat and cruel.[7]

Pallenberg has been portrayed several times by other performers. Monet Mazur played a young Pallenberg in the film Stoned (2005), a biographical film about the last year of Brian Jones's life,[14] while the NBC television show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006) included a story arc in which the character Harriet Hayes was hired to play Pallenberg in a film.[15]

The Rolling Stones[edit]

Romantic relationships[edit]

Pallenberg is known for her romantic involvement with Rolling Stones band members Brian Jones and later Keith Richards. Pallenberg first met the band in 1965 in Munich, where she was working on a modelling assignment.[16] Jones spoke German and they began a friendship that turned into a two-year relationship. She later recalled that they took a lot of acid during this time, and it caused Jones to have nightmares.[17] She ended her relationship with Jones in 1967 after he became violent toward her during a vacation in Morocco, where he was then hospitalised. He died in 1969.[17][18]

In Morocco, Keith Richards saw Jones assaulting Pallenberg, pulled her away and then took her back to England, where she moved in with him.[7] In 1981, Richards stated that he still loved Pallenberg, although he had already met his future wife, Patti Hansen.[19]

Pallenberg denied further affairs, both in March 2007 when Performance was released on DVD[20] and again during an interview in 2008.[7]

Influence on the Rolling Stones[edit]

Pallenberg's burgeoning relationship with Jones encouraged him to experiment musically in their 1966 album Aftermath, while her intelligence and sophistication both intimidated and elicited envy from the other Stones.[21] Pallenberg played an unusual role in the male-dominated world of rock music in the late 1960s, with Jagger respecting her opinion enough for tracks on Beggars Banquet to be remixed after she criticised them.[22] In the 2002 compilation release of Forty Licks, Pallenberg is credited as singing background vocals on "Sympathy for the Devil".[23]

Tony Sanchez's account of his time as Richards's bodyguard and drug dealer mentions Pallenberg's spiritual practices: "She was obsessed with black magic and began to carry a string of garlic with her everywhere — even to bed."[24] Sanchez goes on to describe Anita as having been "like a life-force, a woman so powerful, so full of strength and determination that men came to lean on her".[25]

Jo Bergman, who was the band's personal assistant from 1967 to 1973, said of Pallenberg: "Anita is a Rolling Stone. She, Mick, Keith and Brian were the Rolling Stones. Her influence has been profound. She keeps things crazy."[7]

In the 1977 Toronto heroin arrest, Pallenberg pled guilty to marijuana possession and was convicted and fined several weeks after Richards's arrest.[26]

Pallenberg was a friend of singer Marianne Faithfull, Jagger's girlfriend in the late 1960s.[17] They appeared together in the fourth series (2001) of the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous in episode four, "Donkey", with Faithfull playing God and Pallenberg the Devil.[27]

Death of Scott Cantrell[edit]

On 20 July, 1979, a 17-year-old boy, Scott Cantrell, shot himself in the head in Pallenberg's bed with a gun owned by Keith Richards, while at the South Salem, New York, house shared by Richards and Pallenberg.[28] The youth had been employed as a part-time groundsman. Richards was in Paris recording with the Rolling Stones.[29] Pallenberg was arrested; however, the death was ruled a suicide in 1980.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Pallenberg and Richards had three children: son Marlon Leon Sundeep (born 10 August, 1969), daughter Dandelion Angela (who goes by her middle name; born 17 April, 1972), and son Tara Jo Jo Gunne (26 March – 6 June, 1976). Tara Jo Jo died in his cot ten weeks after birth; the cause of death has been stated as SIDS[30] or pneumonia.[7]

Pallenberg later stated that she first became pregnant in 1968, but that she was pressured to have an abortion so she could take part in the film Performance, which caused her to feel extremely resentful.[citation needed] She became pregnant again, with Marlon, during the filming.[17]

After Tara Jo Jo's death, Keith's mother blamed Pallenberg and said she was an unfit mother, and took Angela to live with her.[7] Pallenberg raised Marlon mostly on the road with the band, teaching him to read and write. When Marlon was eight, she moved into a house on Long Island, New York, so he could have a more routine life and go to school.[17] In later years, she lived principally in Chelsea, London,[7] spending winters in Jamaica.[17]

At one point she expressed interest in writing a memoir but decided not to. "The publishers want to hear only about the Stones and more dirt on Mick Jagger and I'm just not interested", she said in 2008. "I had several publishers and they were all the same. They all wanted salacious. And everybody is writing autobiographies and that's one reason why I'm not going to do it. If young Posh Spice can write her autobiography, then I don't want to write one!"[7]

Health problems[edit]

Pallenberg suffered from hepatitis C, and had two hip surgeries, including a hip replacement, which caused her to walk with a limp.[7] After detoxing in the early 1980s, Pallenberg abstained from drug use but later had a relapse. In 2014, she said she had been 14 years sober from drugs.[17] She stopped drinking in 1987, but had a relapse with alcohol in 2004 after her second hip surgery. She regularly attended AA meetings.[7] In August 2016, she told Alain Elkann in an interview when asked about growing old, "I am ready to die. I have done so much here. My Mum died at 94. I don’t want to lose my independence. Now I am over 70 and to be honest I did not think I would live over 40".[31]


Pallenberg died on 13 June 2017, aged 75, due to complications from hepatitis C.[10][12][32] She is survived by her two children and five grandchildren.[10][33]



  1. ^ Gates, Anita (14 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg, Actress and Muse of Rolling Stones, Dies at 75". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Schudel, Matt (14 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg, alluring muse who brought 'evil glamour' to Rolling Stones, dies". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 15 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Sweeting, Adam (14 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  4. ^ Margotin, Philippe; Guesdon, Jean-Michel (2016). Rolling Stones All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track (illustrated ed.). Hachette UK. p. 590. ISBN 978-0-316-31773-3.
  5. ^ "Anita Pallenberg, Actress and Muse of Rolling Stones, Dies at 75 (Published 2017)". 14 June 2017.
  6. ^ Tremp, Urs (17 June 2017). "Nachruf: Anita Pallenberg, Partnerin von Keith Richards". NZZ Magazin.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Barber, Lynn (23 February 2008). "Lady Rolling Stone". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  8. ^ a b Wyman, Bill (1 November 1990). Stone Alone. Viking. p. 409. ISBN 978-0-670-82894-4.
  9. ^ a b Barber, Lynn (24 February 2008). "Lady Rolling Stone". The Observer. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d e Saperstein, Pat (14 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg, Actress and Longtime Girlfriend of Keith Richards, Dies at 73". Variety. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Anita Pallenberg". 10 February 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Addio all'attrice e modella Anita Pallenberg". La Stampa. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  13. ^ Anita Pallenberg's interview with The Independent, 16 March 2007.
  14. ^ Kubernik, Harvey (2006). Hollywood Shack Job: Rock Music in Film and on Your Screen (illustrated ed.). UNM Press. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-8263-3542-5.
  15. ^ "Harriet Hayes". Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  16. ^ Bill Wyman. Stone Alone. pp. 409–410 ISBN 978-0-670-82894-4
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Elkann, Alain (4 September 2014). "Anita Pallenberg: "La mia vita tra sesso, droga e Rolling Stones"". La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  18. ^ Bill Wyman. Stone Alone. pp. 491–495 ISBN 978-0-670-82894-4
  19. ^ "Keith Richards – Interview". Rolling Stone (magazine), 12 November 1981.
  20. ^ Sullivan, Chris (23 March 2007). "Performance: Anita Pallenberg talks about the notorious Sixties film". The Independent.
  21. ^ Davis, Stephen (2001). Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-Year Odyssey of the Rolling Stones. Crown/Archetype. pp. 147, 155–56. ISBN 0-7679-0956-9.
  22. ^ Mumford, Gwilym (14 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg, actor, model and muse to the Rolling Stones, dies aged 73 {sic}". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  23. ^ "Anita Pallenberg profile".
  24. ^ Sanchez, Tony. Up & Down with the Rolling Stones. New York: Da Capo Press, 1996 (originally 1980)
  25. ^ Sanchez, 116
  26. ^ Sandford, Christopher. Keith Richards: Satisfaction, Carroll & Graf: New York, 2003, p. 227
  27. ^ a b Hodkinson, Mark (2011). Marianne Faithfull: As Years Go By. Omnibus Press. p. 395. ISBN 978-0-85712-993-2.
  28. ^ Flippo, Chet (6 September 1979). "Teenager Dies in Keith Richards' New York Home". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  29. ^ Flippo, Chet (6 September 1979). "Teenager Dies in Keith Richards' New York Home". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  30. ^ Johnson, Jim (27 October 2015). "Keith Richards Looks Back On Drug Use And Death Of Infant Son". CBS. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  31. ^ "Alain Elkann Interviews Anita Pallenberg". August 2016.
  32. ^ Anita Gates (14 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg, Actress and Muse of Rolling Stones, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  33. ^ Matera, Avery (13 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg, Legendary It Girl and Former Partner of Keith Richards, Has Died". W Magazine. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  34. ^ Moeller, Hans Bernhard; Lellis, George L. (2012). Volker Schlondorff's Cinema: Adaptation, Politics, and the "Movie-Appropriate" (illustrated ed.). SIU Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-8093-8939-1.
  35. ^ Westfahl, Gary (2012). The Spacesuit Film: A History, 1918–1969. McFarland. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-7864-8999-2.
  36. ^ Edelman, Rob; Kupferberg, Audrey (2002). Matthau: A Life (illustrated ed.). Taylor Trade Publications. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-87833-274-8.
  37. ^ a b c Spitz, Marc (2011). Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue. Penguin. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-1-101-55213-1.
  38. ^ "Michael Kohlhaas – Der Rebell". Festival De Cannes. 27 May 2023.
  39. ^ Stewart, John (1994). Italian film: a who's who (illustrated, annotated ed.). McFarland. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-89950-761-3.
  40. ^ Witts, Richard (2017). Nico: Life And Lies Of An Icon. Random House. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-7535-4848-6.
  41. ^ Donnelly, Kevin (2002). Pop Music in British Cinema: A Chronicle (illustrated ed.). British Film Institute. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-85170-863-8.
  42. ^ Blistein, Jon (14 June 2017). "Anita Pallenberg, Actress, Model, Keith Richards' Ex-Partner, Dead at 73 {sic}". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 June 2017.

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