West News Wire: Gina Lollobrigida, an Italian movie diva who rose to fame abroad in the 1950s and was labeled “the most beautiful woman in the world” after the title of one of her films, passed away on Monday in Rome, according to her agent. 95 years old.
Paola Comin, the agent, had no other information. However, Lollobrigida underwent surgery in September to fix a thigh bone that was damaged in a fall. She reported she had instantly started walking again when she got home.
The diva’s painted likeness adorned the cover of Time magazine in 1954, which compared her to a “divine” in a piece about Italian filmmaking. Lollobrigida still attracted attention more than 50 years later with her statuesque frame and dark, curly hair, and she preferred to be considered to as an actress rather than a thespian.
“Lollo,” as she was lovingly nicknamed by Italians, 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.
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 e Fantasia” (“Bread, Love and Dreams”Fantasy) in 1953, and the sequel a year later, “Pane Amore e Gelosia” (“Bread, Love and Jealousy”). Her male foil was Vittorio Gassman, one of Italy’s leading men on the screen.
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 1974, Fidel Castro hosted her as a guest in Cuba for 12 days as she worked on a photo reportage.
Lollobrigida was born on July 4, 1927 in Subiaco, a picturesque hill town near Rome, where her father was a furniture maker. Lollobrigida began her career in beauty contests, posing for the covers of magazines and brief appearances in minor films. Producer Mario Costa plucked her from the streets of Rome to appear on the big screen.
Eccentric mogul Howard Hughes eventually brought Lollobrigida to the United States, where she performed with some of Hollywood’s leading men of the 1950s and 60s, including Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Yul Brynner.
Her first marriage, to Milko Skofic, a Yugoslavia-born doctor, ended in divorce in 1971.
In the last years of her life, Lollobrigida’s name more frequently appeared in articles by journalists covering Rome’s courts, not the glamour scene, as legal battles were waged over whether she had the mental competence to tend to her finances.
On her website, Lollobrigida recalled how her family lost its house during the bombings of World War II and went to live in Rome. She studied sculpture and painting at a high school dedicated to the arts, while her two sisters worked as movie threater ushers to allow her to continue her studies.