Model and actress

Born: April 6, 1942

Died: June 13, 2017

ANITA Pallenberg, who has died aged 75, was an actor, model and icon of the UK’s countercultural aristocracy in the 1960s, whose fame was enhanced by high-profile relationships with two members of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones and Keith Richards, the latter of whom she had three children with.

Amid the modest selection of films she made, Pallenberg’s most infamous and widely remembered role was that of Pherber in Nicholas Roeg and Edinburgh-born Donald Cammell’s 1970 cult classic Performance.

Again, this was a film with a Rolling Stones connection; telling the tale of James Fox’s East End gangster Chas taking refuge in the home of Mick Jagger’s enigmatic rock star Turner, the latter of whom enjoys an intense three-way relationship with his live-in lovers Pherber and Michele Breton’s Lucy.

The film is of its time, soaked in nudity and free love, but Pallenberg’s character isn’t token eye candy, rather an iconic avatar of the 1960s’ seismic sexual awakening every bit as enigmatic and self-possessed as Turner himself.

In the early years of her career, it’s fair to say that Pallenberg’s roles typecast her as an exotic, blonde-haired beauty while exploiting a fiercely dark, devil-may-care energy she held just beneath the surface.

A Degree of Murder was a German erotic thriller from 1967 in which her character kills her abusive partner and romances the men hired to dump the body. Jones (and session guitarist Jimmy Page) provided the soundtrack.

Candy was a 1968 sex comedy starring Marlon Brando and Richard Burton in which she cameoed.

There was also Marco Ferrari’s 1969 Italian psycho-thriller Dillinger is Dead and Man On Horseback (1969).

However her memorable role opposite Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim’s Barbarella (1968) was dubbed over.

Born in Rome during the Second World War, her father Arnold was Italian and her mother Paula German. After the war she crammed more into her youth than most manage in a lifetime, attending boarding school in Germany and becoming fluent in four languages, returning to Rome and befriending Federico Fellini and his associates during his La Dolce Vita era, and spending time with Andy Warhol’s Factory set in New York.

Finally settling in Swinging London, she studied various disciplines including medicine, before finally completing a degree in fashion at London’s Central St Martin’s in the early 1990s.

Although Pallenberg’s screen fame waned after Performance, her influence on the Rolling Stones was strong in the 1970s, despite an apparent antipathy towards Mick Jagger (“I found out that if you stand up to Mick, he crumbles,” she asserted). Her advice on the band’s image and sound was taken seriously, although she shared Richards’ drink and drug problems at the time, and the couple split amid controversy in 1980.

In later life she returned to film with small roles in John Maybury’s Francis Bacon biopic Love is the Devil (1998), Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely (2007; with her Performance co-star Fox), Abel Ferrara’s 2007 John Cassavetes remake Go Go Tales and Stephen Frears’ Michelle Pfeiffer-starring Cheri (2009), as well as a cameo alongside her longtime friend Marianne Faithfull in Absolutely Fabulous (2001).

Anita Pallenberg is survived by her children Martin and Angela, and five grandchildren; her son Tara died in infancy. “I am ready to die,” she said in 2016. “I have done so much here. Now I am over 70 and to be honest I did not think I would live over 40.”

By David Pollock