news Gina Lollobrigida, Italian Cinema Legend, Dies at 95

Luigina “Gina” Lollobrigida, The Italian film actor who became one of the most famous stars in European cinema during the 1950s and ’60s, has died, Italian news outlet Lapresse reported Monday. She was 95.

According to Lapresse (via Variety), Lollobrigida died while in a clinic in Rome. No cause of death has been confirmed. Italy’s Minister of Agriculture and Lollobrigida’s grandnewphew Francesco Lollobrigida tweeted about her passing on Monday, calling her “one of the brightest stars of Italian cinematography and culture.”

Oggi è scomparsa #GinaLollobrigida, una delle stelle più luminose della cinematografia e della cultura italiana. Ineguagliabile fuoriclasse, icona di bellezza e versatilità, donna e professionista straordinaria. Continuerà a vivere e ispirare attraverso le sue opere.

— Francesco Lollobrigida
(@FrancescoLollo1) January 16, 2023

Born in 1927 as the daughter of a furniture manufacturer, Lollobrigida studied sculpture at Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, and started her career with minor Italian film roles before coming third in 1947’s Miss Italia pageant. After refusing a contract with Howard Hughes to make three pictures in the United States in 1950, Lollobrigida gained for starring turns in 1952’s “Fanfan la Tulipe” and 1953’s “Bread, Love and Dreams,” the latter of which netted her a BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Actress.

Lollobrigida’s first American film was “Beat the Devil,” a 1953 adventure comedy directed by John Huston that cast her opposite Humphrey Bogart. Over the course of the ’50s and ’60s, she starred in numerous French, Italian and European-shot American productions, with highlights including “Trapeze” with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” as Esmerelda, “Solomon and Sheba” with Yul Brynner, “Never So Flew” with Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen, “Come September” with Rock Hudson, and “Woman of Straw” with Sean Connery, and “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” with Shelley Winters.

Her roles made her a major sex symbol of Italian cinema; in 1953, she won Italy’s David di Donatello award for Best Actress for her performance in the opera star Lina Cavalieri’s biopic “Beautiful But Dangerous,” known in Italian as “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman.” She later won two more David di Donatello Award for “Imperial Venus” and “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” a Golden Medal of the City of Rome in 1986, a 40th Anniversary David in 1996 and a 50th Anniversary David in 2006. In 1961, she won the Golden Globes’ Henrietta Award for “World Fan Favorite,” and received nominations for “Falcon Crest” and “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell.”

After the ’60s, Lollobrigida’s career began to slow down, but she continued to act intermittently, including in the 1995 Agnes Varda film “Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma,” and in ’80s TV shows such as CBS’ “Falcon Crest” and ABC’s “The Love Boat.” Lollobrigida also developed a successful second career in photojournalism during the ’80s, and unsuccessfully ran for European Parliament in 1999. In 2011 she made her final film appearance, playing herself in a cameo for the Italian parody film “Box Office 3D: The Filmest of Films.”

For her work over the course of her career, Lollobrigida won the Berlinale Camera at the Berlin Film Festival in 1986, Karlovy Vary Film Festival special prize in 1995, and the Rome Festival’s career prize in 2008. In 2018, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.