Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4: Italian actress and “singer,” Gina Lollobrigida is 86-years-old today.

Born Luigina Lollobrigida in Subiaco, Italy, Gina was one of the most popular European actresses and iconic sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s. In 2008, she received the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award at the Foundation's Anniversary Gala.

Gina spent her youth in a picturesque mountain village, did some modelling, and participated in several beauty contests. At around this time, she began appearing in Italian language films. In 1945, she played a part in the comedy Santarellina by Eduardo Scarpetta at the Teatro della Concordia of Monte Castello di Vibio, the smallest theatre all'italiana in the world. In 1947, Gina entered the Miss Italia pageant and came in 3rd place.

In 1950 Howard Hughes invited Lollobrigida to make Hollywood films, but she refused, preferring to work in Europe. Still, her performances - and appearance - in Italian films like Bread, Love and Dreams (for which she received a BAFTA nomination and won a Nastro d'Argento award) and Woman of Rome, and in French films like Fanfan la Tulipe and Beauties of the Night, brought her to the attention of Hollywood.

She made her first American film, Beat the Devil, in 1953 with Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones, directed by John Huston. In 1955 Lollobrigida appeared in The World's Most Beautiful Woman, for which she received the first David di Donatello for Best Actress award. In 1956, she appeared in the circus drama Trapeze with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In 1959 she co-starred with Frank Sinatra in Never So Few and with Yul Brynner in Solomon and Sheba. The latter was notable for having Brynner replace Tyrone Power, who died during filming, and for an orgy scene unusual in Hollywood motion pictures of that era.

In 1961 she appeared in the romantic comedy Come September, with Rock Hudson, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin, for which she won a Golden Globe award. The same year she appeared alongside Ernest Borgnine and Anthony Franciosa in the drama Go Naked in the World. In 1962 she was directed again by Jean Delannoy in Venere Imperiale and received a Nastro d'Argento and a David di Donatello award.

In 1964 she co-starred with Sean Connery in the thriller Woman of Straw. She co-starred with Rock Hudson again in 1965's Strange Bedfellows and appeared alongside Alec Guinness in 1966's Hotel Paradiso. In 1968 she starred in Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, the plot of which is the basis for the stage musical Mamma Mia! For this role she was nominated for a Golden Globe and won a third David di Donatello award. Lollobrigida co-starred with Bob Hope in the comedy The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell.

By the 1970s she appeared in only a few poorly received productions in the early part of the decade. In the mid 1980s, she starred in the television series Falcon Crest as Francesca Gioberti, a role originally written for Sophia Loren, who turned it down. For that role she received a third Golden Globe nomination. She also had a supporting role in the 1985 TV mini series Deceptions, co-starring with Stephanie Powers.

In the 1990s she made a few minor French film appearances and continued to visit international film festivals.

Lollobrigida has not made a film since 1997.

In April 2000, Gina told Parade magazine: “I studied painting and sculpting at school and became an actress by mistake .... I've had many lovers and still have romances. I am very spoiled. All my life, I've had too many admirers.”

What many people don’t realize- even many fans - is that Gina also had a beautiful singing voice.


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