Luigia "Gina" Lollobrigida[a] OMRI[3] (4 July 1927 – 16 January 2023) was an Italian actress, model, and photojournalist. She was one of the highest-profile European actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, a period in which she was an international sex symbol. Dubbed "the most beautiful woman in the world",[4] at the time of her death she was among the last surviving high-profile international actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.

Gina Lollobrigida
Publicity still for Trapeze (1956)
Luigia Lollobrigida

(1927-07-04)4 July 1927
Died16 January 2023(2023-01-16) (aged 95)
Rome, Italy
Resting placeCimitero Comunale – Subiaco, Lazio, Italy
  • Actress
  • model
  • photojournalist
Years active1946–1997
Milko Škofič
(m. 1949; div. 1971)
PartnerJavier Rigau y Rafols (1984–2006)[1][2]

As her film career slowed, Lollobrigida established a second career as a photojournalist. In the 1970s she achieved a scoop by gaining access to Fidel Castro for an exclusive interview.

Lollobrigida continued as an active supporter of Italian and Italian-American causes, particularly the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF). In 2008 she received the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award at the Foundation's Anniversary Gala.[5][6] In 2013, she sold her jewellery collection and donated the nearly US$5 million from the sale to benefit stem-cell therapy research.[7] She won the Henrietta Award at the 18th Golden Globe Awards. According to Italian newspapers, Gina Lollobrigida’s estimated net worth at her death was $215 million.

Youth edit

Luigia Lollobrigida was born in Subiaco, Lazio, about 64 kilometres (40 mi) from Rome, the daughter of a furniture maker and his wife.[8] She had three sisters: Giuliana, Maria and Fernanda. After the end of World War II in 1945, the family moved to Rome, where Lollobrigida took singing lessons, did some modelling, and participated in several beauty contests, placing third in the 1947 Miss Italy contest. In 1946, she began appearing in Italian films in minor roles.[9]

In 1945 at age 18, Lollobrigida played a part in the comedy Santarellina by Eduardo Scarpetta at the Teatro della Concordia of Monte Castello di Vibio,[9] the smallest theatre all'italiana in the world.[10]

Acting career edit

Cinema edit

Film still image of Jennifer Jones, Lollobrigida and Humphrey Bogart in Beat the Devil (1953)

In 1950, Howard Hughes signed Lollobrigida on a preliminary seven-year contract to make three pictures a year. She refused the final terms of the contract, preferring to remain in Europe, and Hughes suspended her.[11] Despite selling RKO Pictures in 1955, Hughes retained Lollobrigida's contract. The dispute prevented her from working in American movies filmed in the U.S. until 1959, but allowed for American productions shot in Europe, although Hughes often threatened legal action against the producers.[11]

Her performance in the Italian romantic comedy Bread, Love and Dreams (Pane, amore e fantasia, 1953) led to its becoming a box-office success[11] and her receiving a BAFTA nomination. Furthermore, she won a Nastro d'Argento award from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists for her role in the picture. Lollobrigida appeared in The Wayward Wife (1953) and in Woman of Rome (1954). These were three of her most renowned Italian films, but she worked also in the French industry on such films as Fearless Little Soldier (Fanfan la Tulipe, 1952), Beauties of the Night (Les Belles de nuit, 1952), and Le Grand Jeu (1954).[12][13]

Her first widely seen English-language film, Beat the Devil (1953), was shot in Italy, and directed by John Huston.[14] In this film she played the wife of Humphrey Bogart, with Jennifer Jones and Robert Morley as her costars. She then took part in the Italian-American production Crossed Swords (1954), co-starring with Errol Flynn. Her performance in The World's Most Beautiful Woman (also known as Beautiful But Dangerous, 1955) led to her receiving the first David di Donatello for Best Actress award.[9] In this movie Lollobrigida played Italian soprano Lina Cavalieri and sang all the songs in the movie, including arias from Tosca, in her own voice.[15] She played the principal female lead in the circus drama Trapeze (1956)[8] directed by Carol Reed and co-starring with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis and in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956) appeared as Esmeralda with Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo.[8] The film was directed by Jean Delannoy.[9]

Lollobrigida in Solomon and Sheba (1959)[8]

She appeared in the French movie The Law (1959), alongside Yves Montand and Marcello Mastroianni; then, she co-starred with Frank Sinatra in Never So Few (1959) and with Yul Brynner in Solomon and Sheba (1959).[8] The latter was the last film directed by King Vidor and features a dance routine which was supposed to depict an orgy scene. Brynner had been chosen to substitute for Tyrone Power, who died before the shots were completed.[16]

In the romantic comedy Come September (1961), Lollobrigida had a leading role along with Rock Hudson, Sandra Dee, and Bobby Darin. It was a film for which she won a Golden Globe Award. She appeared, also in 1961, with Ernest Borgnine and Anthony Franciosa in the drama Go Naked in the World.[13]

Lollobrigida in a publicity photo, early 1960s

She attended the 1961 Academy Awards ceremony, hosted by Bob Hope, delivering the Academy Award for Best Director to Billy Wilder for the film The Apartment.[17]

Jean Delannoy then directed her again, this time in Venere Imperiale (1962). She co-starred with Stephen Boyd and received Nastro d'Argento and David di Donatello awards. She co-starred with Sean Connery in the thriller Woman of Straw (1964), with Rock Hudson again in Strange Bedfellows (1965), and appeared with Alec Guinness in Hotel Paradiso (1966).[18]

Lollobrigida starred in Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968) with Shelley Winters, Phil Silvers, Peter Lawford, and Telly Savalas.[19] For this role, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won a third David di Donatello award. Lollobrigida co-starred with Bob Hope in the comedy The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968) and also accompanied Hope on his visits to military troops overseas.[19]

Lollobrigida as The Fairy with Turquoise Hair in the TV series The Adventures of Pinocchio (1972)

During this stage of her career, she rejected roles in many films, including Lady L (1965) with Tony Curtis, directed by George Cukor, due to conflicts with Cukor (the leading role then went to Sophia Loren);[citation needed] Five Branded Women (1960), directed by Martin Ritt (the leading role went to Silvana Mangano);[citation needed] and The Lady Without Camelias (1953), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (the leading role went to Lucia Bosè).[20] She later revealed regret for having refused a supporting role in La Dolce Vita (1960). The film's director, Federico Fellini, wanted to cast her in the film but, she explained, proposed projects were arriving too often at the time and her husband accidentally misplaced the script.[citation needed]

By the 1970s, her film career had slowed down. She appeared in King, Queen, Knave (1972), co-starring with David Niven,[21] and in a few other poorly received productions in the early part of the decade.[citation needed] In 1973, she was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival.[22]

Television edit

Lollobrigida in 1980

In the mid-1980s, she guest starred in a multi-episode arc on the television series Falcon Crest as Francesca Gioberti, a role originally written for Sophia Loren, who had turned it down. For the role, she received a third Golden Globe nomination.[citation needed] She also had a supporting role in the 1985 television miniseries Deceptions, co-starring with Stefanie Powers.[citation needed] The following year, she appeared as a guest star in the TV series The Love Boat.[23]

Judging edit

In 1986, she was invited to head the jury at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival, which awarded the Golden Bear to Reinhard Hauff's film Stammheim. She said the majority decision was "prefabricated", and opposed it.[24] In 1997 she was in the jury at Film Fest Gent and similarly distanced herself from the Grand Prix winner The Witman Boys, which she deemed 'immoral'.[25] [26]

Photojournalism edit

By the end of the 1970s, Lollobrigida had embarked on what she developed into a successful second career as a photographic journalist. She photographed, among others, Paul Newman, Salvador Dalí, Henry Kissinger, David Cassidy, Audrey Hepburn, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Germany national football team. In 1974 she managed to obtain an exclusive interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.[27][28] Between 1972 and 1994 she published six collections of her photographs, including the 1973 title Italia Mia.[29]

Politics edit

Vladimir Putin with Lollobrigida, 2003

In 1999, Lollobrigida unsuccessfully ran for election to the European Parliament as a candidate for The Democrats, a party led by Romano Prodi.[30] In 2020, she publicly endorsed Pope Francis' view on LGBT rights.[31] In the 2022 Italian general election, Lollobrigida, at the age of 95, attempted to win a seat in the Senate of the Republic,[32] by standing for election as candidate for the Sovereign and Popular Italy (ISP), a newly-founded Eurosceptic alliance opposed to Mario Draghi, in Latina, Lazio.[30][33] She was unsuccessful, as the party garnered only 1% of the constituency vote, below the 3% electoral threshold.[33] In an interview with Corriere della Sera prior to the election, Lollobrigida said she was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's "way of doing things". She also claimed to have been close to Indira Gandhi.[30]

Personal life edit

In 1949 Lollobrigida married a Slovenian physician, Milko Škofič. Their only child, Andrea Milko (Milko Škofič, Jr.), was born on 28 July 1957.[34][35] Škofič gave up the practice of medicine to become her manager.[36] In 1960, Lollobrigida moved from her native Italy to Toronto, with Škofič and their son.[37] The couple meant to solve the legal situation of their son who was considered stateless by the Italian bureaucracy.[38] The couple divorced in 1971.[39]

Lollobrigida and her son Andrea Milko in Rome in 1962 at the Piazza Navona Christmas market

In October 2006, at age 79, she announced to Spain's ¡Hola! magazine her engagement to a 45-year-old Spanish businessman, Javier Rigau y Rafols[40][1][2] (Catalan: Javier Rigau i Ràfols).[41][42]

They had met at a party in Monte Carlo in 1984 and had since become companions.[43] The engagement was called off on 6 December 2006, reportedly because of the strain of intense media interest.[44]

In 2006 Lollobrigida and Rigau signed a prenuptial agreement and married in Spain.[1][45]

In January 2013, she started legal action against Rigau, claiming that her ex-boyfriend had staged a secret ceremony in which he "married" an imposter pretending to be her at a registry office in Barcelona. She said he intended to lay claim to her estate after her death. Lollobrigida accused Rigau of fraud, saying that he had earlier obtained the legal right to act on her behalf with a power of attorney, and carried out the plot to get extra power. "A while ago he convinced me to give him my power of attorney. He needed it for some legal affairs. But instead, I fear that he took advantage of the fact that I don't understand Spanish ... Who knows what he had me sign."[46] In March 2017, she lost her court action, but subsequently said that she would appeal.[1][47]

Lollobrigida had a habit of referring to herself in the third person.[48][34][49][50]

Lollobrigida in 1991

Lollobrigida retired from filming in 1997. She told PARADE in April 2000: "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." After retirement she divided her time between her house on Via Appia Antica in Rome and a villa in Monte Carlo. After 2009, she refused visitors to her home.[46]

In 2013, Lollobrigida sold her jewelry collection through Sotheby's. She donated nearly $5 million to benefit stem-cell therapy.[7]

In 2019, the Roman Rota, with the consent of Pope Francis, issued a declaration of nullity for her marriage with Rigau after a two-year review.[51][52][53]

At the end of the 2010s, Andrea Piazzolla became Lollobrigida's main collaborator,[54][55][56] general director and trustee of some Monegasque real estate and financial societies. In July 2020 he was charged for circumvention of an incapable person.[57][58]

In 2021, the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, at the request of her son, ruled that Lollobrigida should have a legal guardian appointed to manage her affairs and prevent predation. Although the court determined she was mentally capable, medical evidence had indicated that there was "a weakening in her correct perception of reality" and that she was in a state of "vulnerability".[59]

Lollobrigida died at a clinic in Rome on 16 January 2023, at the age of 95. She is buried in her birthplace, Subiaco, Lazio.[60][61]

The lawyer and politician, and current Minister of Agriculture of Italy, Francesco Lollobrigida, is her great-nephew.[62][63]

In 2022, sports media noted that Olympic speed skating silver medalist Francesca Lollobrigida is her great-niece, though the two had never met.[64][65]

In November 2023 Andrea Piazzolla was convicted of embezzling Lollobrigida's millions. [66]

Awards and nominations edit

Lollobrigida won three David di Donatello, two Nastro d'Argento, and six Bambi awards. She was nominated three times for the Golden Globe and won once in 1961 as World Film FavoriteFemale.[67] She was nominated once for a BAFTA award.

In 1985, she was nominated as an officer of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by Jack Lang, for her achievements in photography and sculpture.

Lollobrigida was awarded the Légion d'honneur by François Mitterrand.[68]

On 16 October 1999, Lollobrigida was nominated as a Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.[69]

On 1 February 2018, Lollobrigida received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[70]

Books edit

  • Italia mia (1973) – a collection of photographs across Italy[71]
  • The Philippines (1976) – a collection of photographs across the Philippines[72]
  • Wonder of Innocence (1994) – a book of photographs[73]
  • Sculptures (2003)[74]
  • Gina Lollobrigida Photographer (2009) – a book of her photography
  • Gina Lollobrigida "Vissi D'Arte" (2008) – a book of her sculptures and some of her drawings and paintings

Filmography edit

Cinema edit

Lollobrigida in 1955
Lollobrigida in 1979
Year Film Role Notes
1946 Lucia di Lammermoor
This Wine of Love
Black Eagle Girl at party
1947 When Love Calls
Pagliacci Nedda
Flesh Will Surrender Dancer
A Man About the House Young girl
1948 Mad About Opera Dora
1949 Alarm Bells Agostina
The Bride Can't Wait Donata Venturi
The White Line Donata Sebastian
1950 A Dog's Life Rita Buton
My Beautiful Daughter Lisetta Minneci
Alina Alina
1951 A Tale of Five Cities Maria Severini
The Young Caruso Stella
Four Ways Out Daniela
Love I Haven't... But... But Gina
Attention! Bandits! Anna
1952 Wife For a Night (Moglie per una notte) Ottavia
Times Gone By Mariantonia Desiderio
Fanfan la Tulipe Adeline La Franchise
Beauties of the Night Leila, Cashier
1953 The Wayward Wife Gemma Vagnuzzi
Bread, Love and Dreams Maria De Ritis Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
The Unfaithfuls Lulla Possenti
Beat the Devil Maria Dannreuther USA-UK-Italy
Boum sur Paris Herself
1954 Woman of Rome Adriana
Bread, Love and Jealousy Maria De Ritis
Crossed Swords Francesca
Le Grand Jeu Sylvia Sorrego, Helena Ricci
1955 Beautiful but Dangerous Lina Cavalieri David di Donatello for Best Actress
1956 Trapeze Lola
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Esmeralda
1958 Anna of Brooklyn Anna
1959 The Law Marietta
Never So Few Carla Vesari
Solomon and Sheba Queen of Sheba
1961 Go Naked in the World Giulietta Cameron
Come September Lisa Helena Fellini Golden Globe Henrietta Award, World Film Favorite – Female
1962 Lykke og krone (documentary)
La bellezza di Ippolita Ippolita
1963 Imperial Venus Paulette Bonaparte David di Donatello for Best Actress
Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
Mad Sea Margherita
1964 Woman of Straw Maria Marcello
1965 Me, Me, Me... and the Others Titta
Le Bambole (The Dolls) Beatrice
Strange Bedfellows Toni Vincente
The Love Goddesses (documentary)
1966 Pleasant Nights Domicilla
The Sultans Liza Bortoli
Hotel Paradiso Marcelle Cotte
1967 Cervantes Giulia Toffolo
1968 Stuntman Evelyne Lake
Death Laid an Egg Anna
The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell Maria
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell Carla Campbell Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
David di Donatello for Best Actress
1969 That Splendid November Cettina
1971 Bad Man's River Alicia King
1972 King, Queen, Knave Martha Dreyer [21]
1973 The Lonely Woman Netty
1983 Wandering Stars (documentary)
1995 One Hundred and One Nights Professor Bébel's Wife
1997 XXL Gaby
2011 Box Office 3D: The Filmest of Films Herself Cameo appearance

Television edit

Year Film Role Notes
1958 Portrait of Gina (documentary) Lost from 1958 until 1986, when it turned up in a storage unit of the Ritz Hotel, Paris, where director Orson Welles had left the only copy. Upon rediscovery, it was screened once at the 1986 Venice Film Festival, and once on German television, before Lollobrigida (who had seen the Venice screening) took legal action to have it banned, due to its unflattering portrayal of her as an ambitious young star.[77]
1972 The Adventures of Pinocchio The Fairy with Turquoise Hair
1984 Falcon Crest Francesca Gioberti 5 episodes
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1985 Deceptions Princess Alessandra Mini-series
1986 The Love Boat Carla Lucci Season 9, "The Christmas Cruise"[23]
1988 Woman of Rome Adriana's mother 3 episodes, television remake
1996 Una donna in fuga Eleonora Riboldi TV movie

Notes edit

  1. ^ Italian pronunciation: [luˈiːdʒa ˈdʒiːna ˌlɔlloˈbriːdʒida].

References edit

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  30. ^ a b c Giuffrida, Angela (15 August 2022). "Italian actor Gina Lollobrigida, 95, says she will run in general elections". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 25 September 2022. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  31. ^ Boni, Federico (26 October 2020). "Gina Lollobrigida al fianco della comunità LGBT: "Tutti noi dobbiamo avere gli stessi diritti" – video" [Gina Lollobrigida stands with the LGBT community: "We all must have the same rights"]. (in Italian). Archived from the original on 27 June 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  32. ^ Kirby, Paul (26 September 2022). "Italy votes as far-right Meloni looks for victory". BBC News. Archived from the original on 25 September 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
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  34. ^ a b Canales, Luis (1990). Imperial Gina: The Very Unauthorized Biography of Gina Lollobrigida. Boston: Brookline Village. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-8283-1932-4. Andrea Milko Jr. had become a reality and Milko Sr., like most fathers, was overjoyed to have a baby boy.
  35. ^ "People". Time. 12 August 1957. Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  36. ^ Gina Lollobrigida, "Four ways out". Archived 6 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine. National Telefilm Associates. via New York University.
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