The actress who disappeared 40 years ago: what happened to Irina Gărdescu, Amza Pellea’s great “love” in “Mihai Viteazul” and Ion Dichiseanu’s fetish girl

If Irina Gărdescu’s name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because the actress briefly starred in Romanian films and then disappeared from public attention for 40 years.

Irina Gărdescu started acting in films before she finished high school and for a few years she was lucky enough to be cast in big films shot before the Revolution.

In fact, it could be said that her big break came when Sergiu Nicolaescu “set his sights on her” for a role in the film Mihai Viteazul.

Irina Gărdescu life story of the missing actress
Irina Gărdescu – archive image

Irina Gărdescu dropped out of high school to become an actress

Irina Gărdescu is the daughter of Nicolae Gărdescu, also an actor, and made her debut in the film “Four Steps from the End”, directed by Francisc Munteanu, filmed in 1964, where she got the lead role.

Since that film, the young actress has stood out for the ease with which she played her roles, also attracting attention because of her pleasing physical appearance.

In an interview, Ion Dichiseanu declared that one of his great loves was the actress Irina Gărdescu. “I was at a photo shoot. It was very spontaneous, as happens when there’s chemistry…”.

“Stolen” by the mirage of filmmaking, she dropped out of high school, choosing instead to pursue her dream of being an actress.

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She debuted at 14, and for a few years was unstoppable, being cast in key roles in Last Night of Childhood and Gaudeamus Igitur.

However, her great success came with “Mihai Viteazul”, where she was Amza Pellea’s partner, “Cantemir” or even “Castelul Condamnaților”, dramatic characters seeming to fit her “glove”, as even film critics of the period would remark.

Other films in which she starred:

  • “Heaven Begins on the Third Floor” (1967) – Ana;
  • “Pokolrév” (1969); Countess Rossana Viventini;
  • “Power and Truth” (1972);
  • “Farewell, Dear Nela” (1972);
  • “Three Secret Letters” (1974);
  • “The Romanian Musketeer” (1975) – Anca.
Irina Gărdescu - archive image
Irina Gărdescu – archive image

How she disappeared

“It all started one evening when I was with a group of friends, including the playwright Aurel Baranga’s son, and Francisc Munteanu came along, saw me, noticed me and asked me if I wanted to be in one of his films. I went, I auditioned and that’s how I ended up in “Four Steps from Infinity”.

But when Francisc found out I was Gărdescu’s daughter, he said, “Oh, if I’d known, I wouldn’t have taken you, I dislike him so much!”. Naturally, as a joke… But he was very surprised, he wasn’t expecting it,” the actress said in an interview.

“My family was separated, my parents had divorced, and my mother had settled in the United States. In those times of sad terror we chose to go to her, my sister and I. My father stayed here in Romania. We ended up in New York, after my mother made numerous interventions so that we could leave. I attended a famous fashion institute, because I didn’t expect to end up in Hollywood.

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I was filming “The Romanian Musketeer” with Vitanidis when I found out I was leaving. And the director came to me in despair, with one jaw in the sky and one in the ground, because he had heard that I was leaving the next day and the film was unfinished. And I explained to him that I was a responsible person and that I was going to finish my work.

But it was hard for me to leave the country. I left a lot of friends, I left my father, who shortly afterwards collapsed,” she told

She later moved to Paris. “I had a hard time adjusting in the US at first, it was very tiring. It was frustrating, because before I left I took intensive British English classes, but they didn’t help me much in America, where they spoke differently. Later I married a Frenchman, we were together for 25 years until he died.

Now I live in France and have a business producing and distributing luxury goods: we make them in Italy and export them to Florida,” the actress added.

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