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Lollobrigida, Gina (1927—)

Lollobrigida, Gina (1927—)

Italian actress and photographer. Name variations: modeled under the name Diana Loris. Born on July 4, 1927, in Subiaco, Italy; second of four daughters of Giovanni (a furniture manufacturer) and Giuseppina Lollobrigida; received private instruction in singing, dancing, drawing, and languages; attended the Academy of Fine Arts, Rome, Italy; married Drago Milko Skofic (a physician and her manager), in 1950 (divorced 1966); children: one son, Andrea Milko Skofic.

Selected filmography:

Aquila Nera (1946); Elisir d'Amore (1946); Lucia di Lammermoor (1946); Il Delitto di Giovanni Episcopo (1947); Il Segreto di Don Giovanni (1947); Follie per l'Opera (Mad About Opera, 1947); I Pagliacci (Love of a Clown, 1948); Campane a Martello (1949); Cuori senza Frontiere (The White Line, 1950); Miss Italia (Miss Italy, 1950); Vita de Cani (1950); Alina (1950); A Tale of Five Cities (A Tale of Five Women, UK/Fr./It./Ger., 1951); Achtung! Banditi! (1951); Enrico Caruso (The Young Caruso, 1951); La Città si difende (1951); Altri Tempi (Times Gone By, 1951); Fanfan la Tulipe (Fanfan the Tulip, Fr./It., 1952); Les Belles de Nuit (Beauties of the Night, Fr./It., 1952); Moglie per una Notee (Wife for a Night, 1952); Le Infedeli (The Unfaithful, 1952); La Provinciale (The Wayward Wife, 1953); Il Maestro di Don Giovanni (Crossed Swords, It./Us, 1953); Pane Amore e Fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams, 1953); Beat the Devil (UK/It., 1954); Le Grand Jeu (Fr./It., 1954); La Romana (Woman of Rome, 1954); Pane Amore e Gelosia (Frisky, 1954); Bread, Love and Jealousy (1954); La Donna più Bella del Mondo (Beautiful but Dangerous, 1955); Trapeze (US, 1956); Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fr./It., 1956); Anna di Brooklyn (Fast and Sexy, It./Fr., 1958); La Loi (Where the Hot Wind Blows, Fr./It., 1959); Solomon and Sheba (US, 1959); Never So Few (US, 1959); Go Naked in the World (US, 1961); Come September (US, 1961); Vénus impériale (Fr./It., 1962); Mare Matto (It./Fr., 1963); Woman of Straw (UK, 1964); Le Bambole (The Dolls, It./Fr., 1965); Strange Bedfellows (US, 1965); Hotel Paradiso (UK/US, 1966); Cervantes (The Young Rebel, Sp./It./Fr., 1968); La Morte ha Fatto l'Uovo (Plucked, It./Fr., 1968); The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (US, 1968); Un Bellissimo Novembre (That Splendid November, It./Fr., 1968); Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (US, 1969); Bad Man's River (Sp., 1971); Herzbube (King Queen Knave, Ger./US, 1972); Roses rouges et Piments verts (The Lonely Woman, Fr./It./Sp., 1975); Widow's Nest (1977); Stelle Emigranti (1983).

Born in 1927 in Subiaco, Italy, a small mountain town outside of Rome, movie actress Gina Lollobrigida was the second of four daughters of a successful furniture manufacturer and, as a child, took private lessons in singing, dancing, drawing, and languages. During World War II, the family fled to Rome, where Lollobrigida, having developed into a voluptuous beauty, contributed to the family income by modeling for the fumetti (Italian comic strips that use photographs instead of cartoons). Following the liberation, she won a scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied painting and sculpture for three years.

In 1947, film director Mario Costa noticed Lollobrigida on the street and offered her a screen test. This led to small roles in several films and work as a stand-in for a star. (Lollobrigida later said the arrangement ended when the star became jealous of her good looks.) Her first major role was that of a beauty contestant inMiss Italy (1950), a part she could personally relate to having won the title of "Miss Rome" two years earlier. That same year, the actress had her first American screen test under the auspices of RKO's Howard Hughes, who subsequently signed her to an exclusive seven-year contract. Although he never used her in a picture, he made it impossible for her to work for any other American studio for the duration of the agreement.

In 1949, Lollobrigida married a refugee Yugoslav doctor, Milko Skofic, who became her manager. With her growing importance in Italian films and her driving ambition, the actress launched herself in the international film arena. By the early 1950s, "La Lolla," as she was dubbed, was one of Continental Europe's most famous stars. Ephraim Katz notes that the French even coined the word "lollobrigidienne" to describe the curvaceous female form. Particularly notable during this period was her role in The Wayward Wife (1953), for which she was awarded the Grolla d'Oro (the Italian equivalent of the Oscar), and her portrayal of a peasant girl in the highly successful Bread, Love and Dreams (1953), which won the highest award of the Italian

Journalists guild. A sequel to the latter, Bread, Love and Jealousy (1954), was also a major success.

Lollobrigida's first European-made film with an American cast was Beat the Devil (1954), with Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones , after which she made her first picture for a major American studio, Beautiful but Dangerous (1955), a Fox bio-pic about the Italian soprano Lina Cavalieri . Her next effort, Trapeze (1956), with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, opened with great fanfare, but received lukewarm reviews. Lollobrigida subsequently appeared in the French version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956), co-starring Anthony Quinn, and Solomon and Sheba (1959), with Yul Brynner. A glossier Lollobrigida emerged in subsequent Hollywood-produced movies: Go Naked in the World (1961), Come September (1961), Strange Bedfellows (1965), The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968), and Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1969).

Lollobrigida's temperament apparently grew in direct proportion to her popularity, and at one time she was involved in as many as ten simultaneous lawsuits. Always very much in control of her screen image, she frequently designed her own costumes and tended to her own make-up. "I am an expert on Gina," she was once quoted as saying (This Week, October 7, 1956). Lollobrigida even negotiated her own financial deals, sometimes pricing herself out of good roles. When she demanded half the profits for Bread, Love and Nostalgia, another sequel to Bread, Love and Jealousy, she lost the part to another comely Italian actress, Sophia Loren .

Throughout an extremely successful career, Lollobrigida retained her image of a glamour girl, but was never viewed as a great actress. "I am a painter and a sculptor, and by chance I did movies," she said many years after her heyday. Lollobrigida retired from films in the early 1970s, and since then has had a second career as a photographer, a talent she pursued after the birth of her son in 1957. Divorced from her husband in 1966, she has published five books of her photographs, the latest, The Wonder of Innocence (Abrams, 1994), containing over 150 photomontages of children and animals from around the world. Distinct from her previous books which were almost all single images, each photograph in this volume is a composite of many individual photos, sometimes incorporating as many as 15 images in one surrealistic montage. "Technically, the composites are virtually seamless," writes a reviewer for Popular Photography, "it's hard to detect any artifice. Subjects overlap, limbs entwine, and delicate strands of hair glow in the sunlight." Although Lollobrigida would not reveal her techniques, she claimed that the composites were done entirely in her home darkroom (no computers), using a method that took over two years to devise. "You can imagine what I went through is craziness!" She felt that her background as a painter was an enormous help in creating her composite images.

Over the years, the actress has also returned to films on a limited basis. She directed the acclaimed documentary Rittrato di Fidel (Portrait of Fidel Castro, 1975) and was lured back to acting in 1984, appearing in the American television series "Falcon Crest." In June 1999, she also joined a new wave of women entering the Italian political arena. Drafted by the splinter centrist Democrat party to run for a seat in the European Parliament, Lollobrigida, at age 71, was hoping "to be a voice for Italy's women," although she admitted that it was difficult for people to believe that she was not just in town to promote a movie or television series. "Politics isn't easy," she said.

sources:

Appelo, Tim. "A Sex Symbol's Innocence," in Entertainment Weekly. No. 254. December 23, 1994, pp. 18–20.

Current Biography. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1960.

"Gina Lollobrigida: A Photographer?," in Popular Photography. Vol. 59, no. 5. May 1995, pp. 78–80.

Israely, Jeff. "In Italy, women's political star rises," in The Boston Globe. June 5, 1999.

Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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