The most beautiful and unfortunate actress, Irina Petrescu and the drama of reaching Hollywood, only to return to Romania

Irina Petrescu was a discreet and enigmatic presence in Romanian cinema, but also in theatre.

Although she was one of the most beautiful actresses in Romania, Irina Petrescu’s life was not always “all milk and honey”, quite the contrary.

Irina Petrescu – archive image

Irina Petrescu, the artist who went to Hollywood and was offered to stay there

Carmen Irina Petrescu, her full name, was born on June 19, 1941, in the capital, the daughter of a doctor and a medical sister.

She was discovered by the film director Savel Stiopul, who saw her one evening at the Continental restaurant, where she had come with her parents for dinner.

She graduated from the “Ion Luca Caragiale” Institute of Theatrical and Cinematographic Arts in Bucharest in 1963, and during her studies, in 1960, she already made her debut in the film “Valurile Dunării”, directed by the acclaimed Liviu Ciulei.

Irina Petrescu’s last film in which she starred is called The Mission of the Human Resources Director, from 2010.

Since 1964, she was employed at the National Theatre “Ion Luca Caragiale”, and from 1970 to 1980 at the “Bulandra” Theatre.

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“She is not a legend. Irina Petrescu went to Hollywood and was offered to stay there. But for personal reasons she preferred to return home. She was born to make films and was shaped by the most important Romanian directors: Liviu Ciulei, Lucian Pintilie, Ion Popescu Gopo or Gheorghe Vitanidis”, declared the well-known film critic Irina Margareta Nistor, in an interview, the day after the death of the actress, on 19 March 2013.

Irina Petrescu and Liviu Ciulei in The Waves of the Danube. The film marks Irina Petrescu's debut in cinema and is the second film of director Liviu Ciulei, after Eruption (1957).
Irina Petrescu and Liviu Ciulei in Danube Waves. The film marks Irina Petrescu’s debut in cinema and is Liviu Ciulei’s second film, after Eruption (1957)

Good luck in career, but less in personal life

About a woman like Irina Petrescu you could have said that “God put his hand on her head”. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all.

For more than 30 years, the artist battled breast cancer, a disease that eventually brought her to an end.

In addition, the artist suffered terribly after losing both of her parents in a holiday car accident in 1967.

“Between Christmas and New Year’s, I lost my parents in a car accident. First my mother, then a few days later my father. The Christmas tree was in the frosty house, decorated as every year by my mother on Christmas Eve. After their disappearance, the tree became for me too sad a memory. I didn’t dare to do it without her”, Irina Petrescu once sadly confessed.

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But before that, a love affair with the actor Ștefan Iordache was to open the long string of dramas through which she passed.

“I received a letter, at first I didn’t even know who it was from. He wrote that he missed me and wanted to see me. The fact that someone had fallen in love with me, a famous actress, like Irina Petrescu had become, overwhelmed me. I loved her, too, then, for her love. But, as in a funny soap opera, her parents didn’t want me. Her father and I had a few discussions.

He said to my face: “-How do you imagine that I, a doctor, would let my daughter marry a tailor’s child, a scoundrel?”. He was trying to show me that I had no future, that I was a nobody. I’d given some samples for the film Sunday at Six. Lucian Pintilie had assured me that I’d got the part. I was partnered with Irina. But a few days later, his assistant called to tell me I wouldn’t be cast. Irina’s parents didn’t agree with this option,” said Ștefan Iordache years ago.

Irina Petrescu Actress theatre film Romania
Irina Petrescu

Years later, Irina Petrescu fell in love with Adrian Pintea, but breast cancer would lead to the end of the relationship. Theatre sources claim that Pintea would have found it impossible to accept seeing the actress die, so he would have preferred to give her up before that happened.

Irina Petrescu died on 19 March 2013, five years after Adrian Pintea.

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