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Gina Lollobrigida, legend of Italian cinema, died at 95

Gina Lollobrigida, the Italian film actress who became one of Europe’s first major post-World War II sex symbols, has died. She was 95 years old.

Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s culture minister, confirmed Ms Lollobrigida’s death on social media. “Farewell to a diva of the big screen”, Mr. Sangiuliano wrote on Twitter.

Ms Lollobrigida had already appeared in more than two dozen European films when she made her first English language film, John Huston’s 1953 camp drama ‘Beat the Devil’, in which she played Humphrey’s wife and accomplice Bogart. This film and the attention she garnered in “Fanfan la Tulipe”, an Italian-French period comedy released in the United States the same year, was enough to land her on the cover of Time magazine in 1954.

She became an unqualified star of American cinema, exuding wholesome lust in a handful of high-profile films. She starred in “Trapeze” (1956) with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis; “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1956), as Esmeralda, Quasimodo’s beloved gypsy beauty; “Solomon and Sheba” (1959), a biblical epic with Yul Brynner; “Come September” (1961), a romantic comedy opposite Rock Hudson; and “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell” (1968), a comedy about a single mother.

Throughout her career, however, she continued to make far more European than American films, starring the continent’s leading men, including Jean-Paul Belmondo, Marcello Mastroianni, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Yves Montand.

The title of a film, “La Donna Più Bella del Mondo” (1955), gave her her Hollywood nickname: the most beautiful woman in the world (which gives Elizabeth Taylor some competition). The film, released in the United States under the title “Beautiful but Dangerous”, also earned her her first major acting award, the David di Donatello, the Italian equivalent of the Oscar. She won the Donatello twice more, for ‘Venere Imperial’ (1962), tied with Silvana Mangano, and for ‘Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell’, tied with Monica Vitti.

Ms. Lollobrigida has always been considered more of a sex symbol than a serious actress – at least by the American press – but she was also nominated for a BAFTA award as best foreign actress in “Pane, Amore e Fantasia” ( 1953).

After two decades in front of the camera, she is embarking on a second multi-faceted career as an artist and filmmaker. She published her first photography book, “Italia Mia,” in 1973. “Believe it or not, she takes good pictures and doesn’t just sell her name,” wrote Gene Thornton of The New York Times.

She wrote, directed and produced “Ritratto di Fidel”, a documentary based on her exclusive interview with Fidel Castro, the communist leader of Cuba, screened at the Berlin film festival in 1975. She was also a sculptor and an exhibition of 38 of his bronze pieces were exhibited at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, among other venues, in 2003.

Ms Lollobrigida was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1993. She ran unsuccessfully for the European Parliament in 1999.

Liugina Lollobrigida was born on July 4, 1927 in Subiaco, Italy, east of Rome. She was one of four daughters of Giovanni Lollobrigida, a furniture maker, and Giuseppina (Mercuri) Lollobrigida. As a teenager, she studied art, but was discovered by a director, Mario Costa, and began acting in small roles in 1946.

In 1949 she starred in “La Sposa Non Può Attendere” (“The Bride Can’t Wait”). The following year, she appeared in “Miss Italia”, inspired by her real-life experience: she came third in the 1947 Miss Italy pageant. (Winner, Lucia Bosé, and first runner-up, Gianna Maria Canale, have also pursued film careers.)

After her film career ended in the early 1970s, Ms. Lollobrigida appeared on television in Europe and the United States, including episodes of “Falcon Crest” and an American TV movie, “Deceptions” (1985), in which she played an entertaining excitable duchess in Venice. Her last feature film appearance was in “XXL” (1997), a French comedy, also starring Gérard Depardieu, about a Jewish family in the clothing business.

She married Milko Skofic, a Yugoslav-born doctor who became her manager, in 1949. The couple separated in 1966 and divorced in 1971. They are survived by their son, Milko Jr., and a small child. -son.

In 2006, she announced her intention to marry Javier Rigau y Rafols, a 45-year-old Spanish businessman, but called off the wedding less than two months later, reportedly due to overwhelming press attention. .

Ms Lollobrigida was often outspoken in interviews, suggesting in 1969 that women pretended to be stupid in front of men. She claimed to have no beauty secrets and did no exercise other than dancing, and had no objections to being seen as a sex object and being told she had a beautiful body. “Why should I be offended? she said in a 1995 interview with The New York Times. “It’s not an insult.”

However, she had become a philosopher with age. “Success is something that goes up and down,” she said in the same interview. “I was hungry, I was rich, life changed again, and now I’m not rich, but I still have my mind.”

nytimes Gt

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