Family relatives confirmed to the Italian news agency ANSA that the legendary actress Gina Lollobrigida had passed away at 95. Italy’s Minister of Agriculture, her grandnephew Francesco Lollobrigida, tweeted the news of her passing, calling her “one of the brightest stars of Italian cinema and culture.”
RAI, the state-run news agency, also covered her passing. Lollobrigida, together with Sophia Loren, became a symbol of the frank sexuality of Italian actresses in the 1950s and 1960s. Lollobrigida began her career as a painter and sculptor before becoming a victorious beauty queen and model. Her film debut came in 1946 with a modest role in the swashbuckling adventure “The Black Eagle.”
By the early 1950s, she was an excellent star in Europe. Her first role in an English-language film was opposite Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones in John Huston’s “Beat the Devil” (1953).
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In the 1956 film version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” she played Esmerelda opposite Anthony Quinn’s Quasimodo. In King Vidor’s 1959 Technicolor epic “Solomon and Sheba,” she played the Queen of Sheba opposite Yul Brynner’s King Solomon.
Lollobrigida succeeded as a photographer when her acting opportunities dried up in the 1970s. She made cameos in films and television shows, most notably as a recurring character on the US primetime serial opera “Falcon Crest” in 1984.
Her campaign for the Italian Senate last year failed. Still, she told the newspaper Corriere Della Sera: “I was weary of hearing politicians argue with each other without ever getting to the subject.”
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