Gina Lollobrigida: Italian film star once dubbed ‘most beautiful woman in the world’ dies aged 95
Italian film star Gina Lollobrigida - once dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world” after the title of one of her movies - has died at the age of 95, her agent has confirmed.
After a humble upbringing, Lollobrigida played opposite Hollywood stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Rock Hudson, Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Frank Sinatra, becoming one of the most recognisable cinema icons of the 1950s and ‘60s.
“La Lollo”, as she was affectionately known in Italy, died in a Rome clinic on Monday, her agent, Paola Comin, said.
Ms Comin did not provide details, but Lollobrigida had surgery in September to repair a thigh bone broken in a fall. She returned home and said she had quickly resumed walking.
“Farewell to a diva of the big screen, protagonist of more than half a century of the Italian film history. Her charm will remain immortal. Ciao Lollo,” Italian culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano wrote on Twitter.
A spokesperson for Sophia Loren, a superstar diva in her own right in Italy’s heady post-war years, said Loren, 88, was “very shocked and saddened” by Lollobrigida‘s death.
Lollobrigida began making movies in Italy just after the end of World War II - as the country began to promote on the big screen a stereotypical concept of Mediterranean beauty as buxom and brunette.
A drawn portrait of the actress was published on the 1954 cover of Time magazine, which in an article about Italian movie-making likened her to a “goddess.”
Besides “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman” in 1955, career highlights included Golden Globe-winner “Come September,” with Rock Hudson; “Trapeze;” “Beat the Devil,” a 1953 John Huston film starring Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones; and “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” which won Lollobrigida Italy’s top movie award, a David di Donatello, as best actress in 1969.
In Italy, she worked with some of the country’s top directors following the war, including Mario Monicelli, Luigi Comencini, Pietro Germi and Vittorio De Sica.Two of her more popular films at home were Comencini’s “Pane Amore Fantasia” (Bread Love Fantasy) in 1953, and the sequel a year later, “Pane Amore Gelosia” (Bread Love Jealousy).
In each of them, her male foil was Vittorio Gassman, one of Italy’s most leading men on the screen.
Lollobrigida was born on July 4, 1927 in Subiaco, a picturesque hill town near Rome, where her father was a furniture maker.
She began her career in beauty contests, posing for the covers of magazines and brief appearances in minor films.
But she was quickly propelled to roles in major Italian and international movies.
While Lollobrigida played some dramatic roles, her characters were most popular in lighthearted comedies, like the “Bread Love” movies.
But Lollobrigida never clicked with the Hollywood studio system and her best-known films remain those she made with Italian directors before and after her time in America.
One of her last appearances as an actress was a cameo in an Italian film in 2011.
Lollobrigida also was an accomplished sculptor, painter and photographer, and eventually essentially dropped film for the fine arts.
With her camera, she roamed the world from what was then the Soviet Union to Australia.
In 1975 she made a documentary film “Portrait of Fidel Castro,” and for years there were rumours that she had had an affair with the Cuban leader.
Last September, she failed in a bid to win a seat in the Italian parliament for a leftist political party at national elections.
When asked how she felt turning 90 in 2017, she said she felt like “30 plus 30 plus 30”.