Gina Lollobrigida, Italian film legend, has died aged 95

She wrote, directed and produced Ritratto di Fidel, a documentary based on her exclusive interview with Fidel Castro, Cuba’s communist leader, screened at the 1975 Berlin Film Festival. She was also a sculptor, and in 2003 an exhibition of 38 of her bronze works was shown at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, among others.

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

German actor Horst Buchholz kisses the hand of Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida in 1958.

German actor Horst Buchholz kisses the hand of Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida in 1958.Credit:AP

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. She studied art as a teenager but was spotted by a film director, Mario Costa, and began appearing in small roles in 1946.

In 1949 she played the leading role La Sposa Non Può Attendere (The Bride Can’t Wait). The following year she appeared in Miss Italy, inspired by her real experience: she was third in the 1947 Miss Italy pageant. (The winner, Lucia Bosé, and the first runner-up, Gianna Maria Canale, also went on to have film careers.)

After her film career ended in the early 1970s, 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 agitated duchess entertaining in Venice. Her last feature film appearance was in XXL (1997), a French comedy starring Gérard Depardieu about a Jewish family in the clothing trade.

She married Milko Skofic, a Yugoslav-born doctor, in 1949, who became her manager. The couple separated in 1966 and divorced in 1971. Her son Milko jr. she survives together with a grandson.

Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale in the 1990s.

Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale in the 1990s.Credit:AP

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

Lollobrigida was often outspoken in interviews, and in 1969 suggested that women pretended to be stupid in front of men. She claimed to have no beauty secrets and does no exercise other than dancing, and didn’t mind 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. “That’s not an insult.”

Still, as she grew older, she had become philosophical. “Success is something that ebbs and flows,” she said in the same interview. “I was hungry, I was rich, life changed again, and now I’m not rich anymore, but I still have my sanity.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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Jaclyn Diaz

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