When her husband died, she moved back to Rome, where she would remain until her death.
She was one of the most successful silent film stars in the first quarter of the twentieth-century.
After the war, a new generation of directors and actors took over the Italian film industry. Nevertheless, Bertini was still very popular and considered one of the best living actresses.
She is one of the first film actresses to focus on reality, rather than on a dramatic stereotype, an anticipation of Neorealistic canons.
In 1976 Bernardo Bertolucci was able to convince her to emerge from her stubborn silence, accepting a role in his movie Novecento.
Bertini began performing on stages as a child, particularly in Naples, where her family was settled.
Reputedly, in 1915 she earned $175,000-a record for the time; Mary Pickford wouldn't catch up until the following year.
In 1904, she moved to Rome, where she improved her acting skills, especially on theatre stages, and attempted to perform in the just-born Italian movie production.
In 1982 the director Gianfranco Mingozzi directed a documentary about Bertini, The Last Diva (1982), an amazing, fascinating look at this larger than life figure from early Italian film and pre-Communist, pre-Fascist, pre-World War Italy.
Bertini was popular internationally, her sophistication emulated around the world by women moviegoers.
Born in Florence, she was daughter of a comic theatre actress.
The expression of authentic feelings was the key of her success through many films. She could perform with success the languid decadent heroine as well as the popular common woman.
With Assunta Spina (1915) in 1915 she took care of the scripts as well as performing the role of the main character.
Her first important movie, Pierrot the Prodigal (1914), was under the direction of Baldassarre Negroni in 1913.
She stepped into sound movies as well, but in the meantime the Italian cinema had changed greatly (the period of Telefoni bianchi comedies) and entered into a period of crisis with Fascism and censorship. It experienced a definite hiatus with World War II.
She developed the current acting techniques of movie actresses by making it more sober, banning broad gestures or the mincing ways of the Diva.
After the end of the war, the Fox Film Corporation in Hollywood offered to sign a contract with her, but she refused: she was married to the wealthy Swiss banker Paul Cartier and wanted to move with him to Switzerland.
In 1969 she published her autobiography, "The rest does not count".
Gradually she developed her beauty and elegance, plus a strong, intense, and charming personality, which would be the key of her success as a silent movie actress.