Anita Pallenberg, Actress, Model, Keith Richards’ Ex-Partner, Dead at 75
Anita Pallenberg, the actress, model and former partner of Rolling Stones guitarists Brian Jones and Keith Richards, died Tuesday after a long illness at St. Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, according to a representative. She is survived by her son, Marlon Richards, daughter Angela, and grandchildren Ella, Orson, Ida, Ava and Otto. Pallenberg was 75.
“A most remarkable woman. Always in my heart,” Richards said in a statement.
Actress Stella Schnabel announced Pallenberg’s death on Instagram. A cause of death was not given. “I have never met a woman quite like you Anita,” Schnabel wrote. “I don’t think there is anybody in this universe like you. No one has ever understood me so well. You showed [me] about life and myself and how to grow and become and exist with it all … Thank you for the most important lessons – because they are ever changing and definitive. Like you. We are all singing for you, how you liked it.”
Modeling and acting comprised the bulk of Pallenberg’s career, though she also worked as a designer and was a fixture in the pop art world during the Sixties, appearing regularly at Andy Warhol’s Factory. Her most notable film roles include a supporting turn in the 1968 Jane Fonda cult classic Barbarella and Performance, a 1970 crime drama co-starring Mick Jagger.
Pallenberg first entered the Rolling Stones’ universe in the mid-Sixties when she snuck into a concert in Munich, Germany. She struck up a relationship with then-guitarist Brian Jones, but eventually left Jones for Richards. In his 2010 memoir Life, Richards said Pallenberg came to him after a string of violent incidents involving Jones, though the guitarist was brutally candid about his own tumultuous relationship with Pallenberg as well.
During their relationship, Pallenberg and Richards had three children, Marlon, Angela and Tara, though he died of pneumonia at 10 weeks. Richards and Pallenberg also notably struggled with heroin addiction, and in 1977, they nearly faced significant jail time after being busted for possession just days apart in Toronto.
Even after their relationship ended, Pallenberg and Richards remained close. In a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, Richards recalled, “It was tough. At the same time, there is an underlying love that goes beyond all of that other stuff. I can say, ‘I love you, I just won’t live with you.’ And we’re now proud grandparents, which we never thought we’d ever see.”
Pallenberg would eventually get sober and during the mid-Nineties earned a degree in fashion design from Central Saint Martins in London. During the late 2000s she returned to acting as well, appearing in films like Mister Lonely and Cheri, while in interviews she described a leisurely life of gardening and art, taking a particular interest in botanical drawing.
“I’m not capable of doing nothing,” she told The Guardian in 2008. “I’ve got my allotment in Chiswick, this is the third year, and I go out there twice a week at least with another girl and it’s fun. I grow vegetables – I’m a vegetarian; I’ve got strawberries, artichokes, leeks, broad beans. And I do drawing and watercolor classes and now I’m doing a course in botanical drawing at the Physic Garden, which is really interesting.” When asked what her classmates might think of her, Pallenberg replied, “I don’t care! I can’t start thinking about that kind of thing. And they’re all better at drawing than me.”