It’s been more than five decades since the release of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall and more film veterans. Fans of the crime drama are still particularly curious about what happened to Simonetta Stefanelli, the actress who played Michael Corleone’s first wife, Apollonia Vitelli, in the film. Scroll below to find out what happened to her and where she is now. 

What Happened to Simonetta Stefanelli?

In the Academy Award-winning classic, Michael met Apollonia, the daughter of Signor Vitelli, in Sicily after escaping New York. Eventually, the pair began dating with the blessing of her family and wed shortly after in a grand celebration. After their love story unraveled on screen, Michael was left devastated when Apollonia was killed by a car bomb that was initially intended for him. 

Who Played Apollonia in 'The Godfather'? Actress Today

Soon after the fatal attack, orchestrated by bodyguard Fabrizio, Michael returned to the U.S. completely heartbroken over his wife’s death. Eventually, he married his second wife, Kay Adams, portrayed by Diane Keaton, and welcomed two children, Anthony and Mary Corleone. 

Though her time in the franchise was short, Simonetta certainly made a lasting impression on the audience. 

Where Is Simonetta Stefanelli Now?

After her breakout appearance in The Godfather in 1972, the Italian actress made a few film appearances with her then-husband, Michele Placido. She was married to the director from 1989 to 1994. Together they welcomed three children, Michelangelo, Brenno and Violante.

Other acting appearances made by Simonetta included a recurring role in 1974’s Moses the Lawgiver, 1983’s Art of Love and 1992’s Scoop as well as a number of Italian films. Her most recent acting role came in 1992’s Close Friends, per IMDb. Since then, she’s largely stayed out of the spotlight while her daughter, Violante, decided to pursue a career as an actress and singer. 

In October 2022, Simonetta gave a rare glimpse of her life away from the acting business. 

“I’m writing my first novel and writing poems that I keep to myself,” she told the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

She also reflected on her role in The Godfather 50 years after her big break in the film.

“I was completely unaware. I didn’t know who Coppola and Al Pacino were, I only knew Marlon Brando, I was crazy about him,” she recalled of landing the part in a cast full of film legends. “When they offered me the part and told me he was the godfather, I thought it was a joke. Nor was he on set in Sicily. I didn’t notice anything, I went around for a week, it happened in a flash: I see Al Pacino, the groom, I get killed. I had no idea what else was in the film.”