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Actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting Sue Over Underage Nudity in 1968 "Romeo and Juliet" Film.

High School students around the globe were subjected to watching the 1968 film "Romeo and Juliet" while learning about the works of Shakespeare and I was one of them. We watched it, unedited, and were exposed to the young and forbidden love of Romeo and Juliet . We were also exposed to some brief nudity. The film's stars a 15-year-old Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who was 16 at the time, were filmed portraying the fated couple and they say, one of the scenes, was filmed against their will.

WPBF reports that Hussey, now 71, and Whiting, now 72, filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging sexual abuse, sexual harassment and fraud.

Director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, initially told the two that they would wear flesh-colored undergarments in the bedroom scene that comes late in the movie and was shot on the final days of filming, the suit alleges.

But on the morning of the shoot, Zeffirelli told Whiting, who played Romeo, and Hussey, who played Juliet, that they would wear only body makeup, while still assuring them the camera would be positioned in a way that would not show nudity, according to the suit.

Yet they were filmed in the nude without their knowledge, in violation of California and federal laws against indecency and the exploitation of children, the suit says.

The pair said in their lawsuit that Zeffirelli told them they must act in the nude “or the Picture would fail" and their careers would be hurt. The actors “believed they had no choice but to act in the nude in body makeup as demanded.”

Whiting's bare buttocks and Hussey's bare breasts are briefly shown during the scene. This type of nudity, where the man is barely shown but the woman is fully exposed on top, was routine in those days and can still be found in films of today.

The court filing says the Hussey and Whiting have suffered emotional damage and mental anguish for decades, and that each had careers that did not reflect the success of the movie.

It says given that suffering and the revenue brought in by the film since its release, the actors are entitled to damages of more than $500 million.

Although Hussey has previously defended the film in the past, we believe that being exposed at such a young age left her vulnerable to the predatory behaviors KNOWN to take place in Hollywood.

Hopefully, this case will set a precedent for others moving forward.


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