Gina Lollobrigida Dies: Italian Cinema Diva Was 95


Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, who was one of the world’s most famous actresses enjoying success in Europe and Hollywood in her 1950s and 60s heyday, has died in Rome at the age of 95.

Tributes poured in for the actress from across Italy and the world.

“In the immediate period after the war and throughout the 1950s there was one face that represented Italian beauty in the eyes of the world and it was that of Gina Lollobrigida,” wrote the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera in a tribute article.

“More than (Sophia) Loren, but also more than (Lucia) Bosè, (Gianna Maria) Canale, (Silvana) Mangano or (Silvana) Pampanini,” continued the article, citing a list of other female Italian cinema icons.

Born in the hilltop town of Subiaco outside Rome in 1927, Lollobrigida started out as a model and was first scouted when she took part in the Miss Italy competition in 1947.

Although she would go on to be dubbed as “The Most Beautiful Woman in The World”, Lollobrigida came in third place, after Lucia Bosè and Gianna Maria Canale, who would also go on to forge successful cinema careers.

After several smaller supporting roles in the late 1940s, she secured her first co-starring role in Luigi Zampa’s comedy-drama Campane e Martello, playing a prostitute who discovers the earnings she sent to a priest for safekeeping have been used to set up an orphanage.

Her first major breakthrough role was in the 1952 French swashbuckler Fearless Little Soldier (Fan la Tulipe), in which she co-starred opposite Gérard Philipe.

Her star also continued to rise at home with Luigi Comencini’s 1953 romantic comedy hit Bread, Love And Dreams, in which she played an earthy, young woman who catches the eye of a veteran marshall played by Vittorio De Sica.

Other Italian hits included the 1953 romantic-drama Beautiful But Dangerous, in which she played a music hall singer who falls in love with a Russian prince, for which she won the first of seven Italian Davide di Donatello awards.

She also clinched the acting prize for Venere Imperiale in 1962, a biopic about Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, and Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell in 1968, about a woman who receives payments from three different men who believe themselves to be the father of her child.

At the same time, Lollobrigida was also forging a career in Hollywood, breaking out internationally with John Huston’s 1953 crime caper Beat The Devil, in which she co-starred opposite Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones.

She also achieved international success with the 1956 version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, playing Esmeralda opposite Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo, and Robert Mulligan’s Italy-set 1961 romantic comedy Come September, in which she co-starred opposite Rock Hudson.

Her career slowed down in the 1970s but the actress enjoyed a revival in the late 1980s thanks to a series of appearances in TV shows including Falcon Crest, Deceptions and The Love Boat.

In more recent years, Lollobrigida devoted herself to photography, art and politics, running as a candidate in the Italian general elections in September for the anti-establishment left-wing Sovereign and Popular Italy party.

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