Anna Capri

d. August 19, 2010

Anna Capri, Hungarian-born actress who became one of the staple guest stars in 1960s and 1970s television but who was best known for her role in the Bruce Lee film “Enter the Dragon,” died Aug. 19 in a Los Angeles hospital from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. She was 65.

The Hollywood Reporter said Capri was driving in North Hollywood on Aug. 9 when her car was struck by a five-ton truck driven by a 22-year-old female. She had been in a coma for 11 days when her family ended life support.

Capri was born in Budapest in 1944 but her family soon moved to Los Angeles to escape the post-war communist takeover of Hungary. She started acting at the age of 11 under her real name Anna Marie Nanasi, with roles in episodes of Make Room for Daddy, Father Knows Best, Sugarfoot, Trackdown. Circus Boy and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.

She took the name Anna Capri as she transitioned into older teenage roles in episodes of Cheyenne, 77 Sunset Strip, Dobie Gillis and Leave it to Beaver. She was a regular in the ABC sitcom Room for One More, playing the adopted daughter of a family headed by Andrew Duggan that took in homeless and orphaned children. The show ran only from January to September 1962.

By the mid-60s, she settled in for a 10-year run as one of the actresses who regularly took the principal female guest role in weekly TV series, appearing in episodes of Branded, 12 O’Clock High, Laredo, The Felony Squad, Run for Your Life, Iron Horse, The Monroes, The Invaders, The Outsider, The Name of the Game, The FBI, The Guns of Will Sonnett and others.

Capri’s spy-show roles included two episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and appearances in I Spy, The Wild Wild West, It Takes a Thief and Search. She also was cast in the fourth U.N.C.L.E. movie, “One of Our Spies Is Missing,” as a fashion model who doubles as an assassin. The character only appeared in scenes shot for the feature version, not in the TV two-parter that supplied most of the film’s footage.

Capri’s other feature roles were infrequent, beginning with the low-budget 1957 western, “Outlaw’s Son.” She was the daughter of America’s first woman president, played by Polly Bergen, in 1964’s “Kisses for My President,” and appeared with Lesley Gore, Lana Wood and the Beach Boys in 1965’s “The Girls on the Beach,” yet another of the many 60s surf-rock comedies.

She had a string of better films in the early 70s, starting with “Darker Than Amber” (1970), based on a Travis McGee detective novel with Rod Taylor starring as McGee. She appeared with Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones in the effective little horror film “The Brotherhood of Satan” (1971), and played the fed-up girlfriend of Rip Torn’s insufferable country singer in “Payday” (1973).

It was also around 1970 that she started billing herself as Ahna Capri, because, she said, it represented the correct pronunciation of her name that so many Americans mispronounced with a short English “A.” She normally spoke without a trace of an accent, but she could effect a convincing native accent when playing Hungarian characters in U.N.C.L.E. and I Spy.

Early in 1973, Capri was one of a contingent of American performers that also included John Saxon and Jim Brown who journeyed to Hong Kong to appear in Bruce Lee’s latest and biggest picture, released in the United States as “Enter the Dragon.” As Lee’s highest-budgeted kung fu pic, the one most accessible to American audiences, and the last film Lee completed before his sudden, mysterious death at the age of 32, “Enter the Dragon” quickly took on a cult following that has only grown over the years. Capri became a favorite of the film’s followers for her role as secretary to the Hong Kong crimelord who stages the epic kung fu bout that Lee, Saxon and Brown all enter for their own reasons.

Capri continued to get TV roles regularly through the mid-70s, in episodes of Mannix, Ironside, The Mod Squad, Dan August, Love American Style, Banacek, Cannon, Police Story, Kojak, Matt Helm, Baretta and others. Her last feature role was in the 1976 comedy “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.” After guest shots in a 1977 Man From Atlantis episode and a 1979 Mrs. Columbo, she retired from the screen at the age of 35.


Top, Anna Capri in “Enter the Dragon” (1973); above, in “The Brotherhood of Satan” (1971); left, with Hari Rhodes as the fake Scotty in the “I Spy” episode “Will the Real Good Guys Please Stand Up” (1966).

Left: Anna Capri as Tavia Sandor, Hungarian clerk in a Manhattan health-food store, with David McCallum in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” episode “The Birds and the Bees Affair” (1966).

Below: Anna Capri with Roy Thinnes in “Counterattack” episode of “The Invaders” (1968).