Gina Lollobrigida, Italian film icon and photographer, dies at 95

© Girolamo di Majo, AP

Gina Lollobrigida, who has died at the age of 95, shot to fame in the 1950s as a sultry Mediterranean sex symbol, then became a photographer and sculptor after stepping away from the movie world.

At the height of her fame in the 1950s and 1960s, Lollobrigida, who was known simply as "La Lollo," was an internationally recognised epitome of Italian post-war cinema, rivalled only by Sophia Loren.

Tempestuous and impulsive by nature, she made headlines again in 2006, when, at age 79, she announced that she would marry a man 34 years her junior. She later called off the wedding, blaming the media for spoiling it.

"All my life I wanted a real love, an authentic love, but I have never had one. No one has ever truly loved me. I am a cumbersome woman," she told an interviewer when she was 80.

Born to a working class family in a poor mountainous area east of Rome, she studied sculpture then got her break in the film world after finishing third in the 1947 Miss Italia beauty contest. (The winner that year was Lucia Bose.)

One of her earliest performances was as Gemma, the unhappy adulteress in the 1953 film by director Mario Soldati "The Wayward Wife" (La Provinciale).

She burst to fame in Italy with the leading roles in two Italian comedies by Luigi Comencini – "Bread, Love and Dreams," and "Bread, Love and Jealousy".

World's most beautiful woman

A role opposite Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 1954 film "Beat the Devil," sealed her worldwide fame and in 1955 she made what became one of her signature films, "The World's Most Beautiful Woman".

She was also directed by other film luminaries such as Rene Clair and Carol Reed.


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