Adored icon of the Seventh Art endowed with a breathtaking beauty, Gina Lollobrigida has collaborated with famous directors and played with very great actors. She leaves behind a dense career as an actress, between cinema and television. A legend passed away today at the age of 95.
Gina Lollobrigida, real name Luigina Lollobrigida, is an Italian actress and photographer, born July 4, 1927 in Subiaco and died January 16, 2023 in Rome. Coming from a modest working-class family forced to leave her province for Rome, Gina Lollobrigida, attracted by the artistic milieu, enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1945, she played a role in the comedy Santarellina, by Eduardo Scarpetta, at the Teatro della Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio (Italy), the smallest Italian-style theater in the world. She is given the lead role in a photo novel that will get her noticed by the cinematographic community. She also participates in beauty contests; in 1947, she finished second in the Miss Rome contest and third in the Miss Italy contest.
A plastic that bursts the screen
For four long years (1947 to 1951), the cinema offered him only secondary roles, until the film by Christian-Jaque, Fanfan the Tulip, where she plays, alongside Gérard Philipe, a role that will give another boost to her film career. Who doesn’t remember Gérard Philipe’s famous line alluding to the actress’ generous and busty neckline? On January 15, 1949, she married the doctor Milko Škofič who, abandoning his activity, became her impresario. They divorced in 1971.
After a detour through Hollywood, where she was forced to reject the advances of the wealthy Howard Hughes, she found herself in front of René Clair’s cameras for night beauties, in 1952, and by Luigi Comencini for Bread, Love and Fantasy, in 1953, followed the following year by Bread, Love and Jealousy, where she bewitches Vittorio De Sica, two triumphs that go far beyond the borders of the country. She finally gained international stature with John Huston, who had her play alongside Humphrey Bogart in stronger than the deviland Britain’s Carol Reed in Trapeze with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis; Esmeralda’s role in Notre Dame of Paris by Jean Delannoy confirms it again in 1956 with Anthony Quinn in the role of the deformed Quasimodo. In Italy, The Merchant of Love by Mario Soldati and The Beautiful Roman de Zampa reinforce its status as a star. She tours with Vittorio De Sica Anna from Brooklyn and with Jules Dassin The law (with Yves Montand, Pierre Brasseur and Marcello Mastroianni). She then returned to the United States where she burst the screen in front of the cameras of John Sturges, in 1958, with Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen in The prey of the vulturesthen those of King Vidor, in 1959, in Solomon and the Queen of Shebawith partner Yul Brynner replacing Tyrone Power when the latter succumbs to a heart attack on set.
A throat, a navel, a very nice fall of the kidneys and a talent for acting
In December 1953, one could read this in the Cahiers du cinema (no. 30):
“The charming Gina Lollobrigida was launched by the throat. A generous throat in truth and made of a material that is both marmoreal and transparent which fascinates the gaze and annoys the hand. Those who have seen The Merchant of Loveby Mario Soldati, adapted from The Provincialby Alberto Moravia, now know that Gina not only has a throat, a navel and a very nice drop in the back, but also a very sure and very sensitive talent as an actress.”
In the early 1960s, in Hollywood, Gina Lollobrigida distinguished herself in September meeting, by Robert Mulligan, alongside Rock Hudson, before heading to Europe in 1962 to Imperial Venus, de Delannoy, where she lends her beauty to Pauline Bonaparte, Unrealizable with Jean-Paul Belmondo and The Straw Woman with Sean Connery. These films met with little success with the exception of that of Jean Delannoy.
Favoring comedy, Gina Lollobrigida still appears in Dolls, by Mauro Bolognini, and Me me me And the others, by veteran Alessandro Blasetti (with Silvana Mangano and Walter Chiari), before reuniting with Rock Hudson in strange companions bed, of Melvin Frank, and joining with Alec Guinness the Paradiso, free trade hoteladapted from Georges Feydeau by Jean-Claude Carrière and directed by Englishman Peter Glenville.
A career in decline…
Neither The Sultans, by Jean Delannoy, with Daniel Gélin and Louis Jourdan, nor The Extraordinary Adventures of Cervantes, by Vincent Sherman, with Horst Buchholz, nor Death laid an egg, by Giulio Questi, with Jean-Louis Trintignant, or finally The mad Navy, by Frank Tashlin, with Bob Hope, Jeffrey Hunter and Mylène Demongeot did not revive his career.
1968 is a pivotal year in the life of Gina Lollobrigida which puts an end to nineteen years of marriage, thus losing her impresario. She puts a brake on her career after the filming of Buona will be Mrs. Campbell, by Melvin Frank, alongside Shelley Winters and This wonderful autumn by Mauro Bolognini who stages her in the role of a mature woman having an affair with a teenager. Gina Lollobrigida still participates with Lee Van Cleef and James Mason in the parody western The Magnificent Four of El Pasowith David Niven, to the comedy by Jerzy Skolimowski, King, Queen, Jackbefore reuniting with Luigi Comencini to play the Turquoise fairy in the television series The Adventures of Pinocchio, with Nino Manfredi as Geppetto.
After the drama Red roses and green chillies with Danielle Darrieux and Susan Hampshire, where she precisely plays a photographer, she stops shooting in 1973 to embark on a new passion, photography.
Return to television and awards
She returned to television in 1984 in several episodes of the series Falcon Crest in which his character shows great sensuality and the greatest contempt for his American cousins, then in 1985 in the series lend me your life, starring Stefanie Powers, and finally in 1988 in Very beautiful and too naive by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, based on the novel by Alberto Moravia which had inspired The Beautiful Roman thirty-four years earlier, where she plays a mother who lives in a conflictual relationship with her daughter played by Francesca Dellera. In 1986, she was president of the jury of the Berlin International Film Festival and received the “Berlinale Camera”, a newly created award given to filmmakers and actors who had rendered eminent services to the festival. In 1989, the French rose gardener Meilland honored the actress by baptizing one of his creations Gina Lollobrigida.
She was named Knight of the Legion of Honor and received her insignia in 1995 from the hands of the President of the Republic François Mitterrand. The same year, she appeared, alongside a host of great actors, in Agnès Varda’s film, The Hundred and One Nights of Simon Cinema, in which the filmmaker speaks critically about her: the cinema fairy, whom Gina Lollobrigida embodies, would be venal. His last roles date back to 1996 in Una donna in fugawith Dalila Di Lazzaro and Ben Gazzara, and in XXL by Ariel Zeitoun, with Gérard Depardieu, both in the cinema, and in 2011 in 3D Box Office – Il film dei film by Ezio Greggio, the first 3D film made in Italy.
Appointed goodwill ambassador in 1999 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, she ran for the European elections the same year, number 2 on the list of Antonio Di Pietro, the former -anti-corruption magistrate, without being elected.