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Gina Lollobrigida From post-war film legend to artist


Philip Pullella

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”.



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.

But despite playing opposite other American stars such as Frank Sinatra and Burt Lancaster, she never clicked with Hollywood and preferred to work closer to home, making films throughout the 1960s with directors such as Mario Bolognini.

Perhaps her last well-known movie was “Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell,” a farce by director Melvin Frank which also starred Phil Silvers, Peter Lawford and Telly Savalas.

In it, she played Carla, an Italian woman who had affairs with three American soldiers during World War Two and meets them all again during a squadron reunion 20 years later.

Born on July 4, 1927, Lollobrigida fled the rural area of her birth with her family during World War Two and was later sent to the Academy of Fine Arts in the capital to complete her education.

She first earned her living as a model for fotoromanzi, the photographic novels avidly read in Italy, using the stage name Diana Loris.

Lollobrigida accompanied her success on the screen with a hectic, often turbulent life that provided a rich source for Italian paparazzi and gossip writers.

She tried to guard her private life, retreating to an isolated villa on Rome’s ancient Appian Way, which was decorated with her own sculptures and paintings as well art she collected on her world travels.

In 1950 she married Yugoslav emigre doctor Milko Skofic, who became her manager. They couple had one son, Milko Junior.

They separated after nearly 17 years, and Lollobrigida said later she had no intention of remarrying. “Marriages are boring and almost always like funerals, and couples so often restrict each other too much,” she said. — Reuters

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