Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, who died on January 16 at the age of 95, was known as one of the most beautiful beauties of European cinema in the fifties and sixties of the last century.
Lollobrigida, who has always been described as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” played starring roles alongside major Hollywood actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, and Errol Flynn, and among her famous films were “Beat the Devil,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Beautiful But Dangerous.” “.
But she moved away from the world of acting in the seventies, and turned to the world of photography and politics.
Lollobrigida, better known as “La Lola”, was one of the last icons of the golden age of cinema. Humphrey Bogart said of her that she “made Marilyn Monroe, look more like Shirley Temple”, meaning that Monroe looked like a teenage girl compared to Lollobrigida’s femininity.
Businessman and movie mogul Howard Hughes took a liking to Gina Lollobrigida, and pursued her with offers of courtship and marriage.
Lollobrigida and the other Italian star, Sophia Loren, had a competitive and unfriendly relationship, and Loren said she was “shocked and very sad” at the death of her former rival.
The Italian Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangioliano, mourned her on Twitter, saying, “Farewell to the star of the silver screen, the heroine of more than half a century in the history of Italian cinema. Her magic will remain immortal.”
Lollobrigida died in a clinic in Rome, her former lawyer, Giulia Settani, announced.
Luigina Lollobrigida was born on July 4, 1927, in the mountain village of Subiaco, about 50 kilometers from Rome. Her father was a furniture maker, her adolescence coincided with World War II, and she later moved with her family to Rome, where she studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts.
Lollobrigidia caught the attention of a talent scout, who offered her an audition at the Cinecittà studio, which was then the largest film studio in Europe.
Lollobrigida was not enthusiastic about the idea, and rejected it at first. She said, “I refused the first role they offered me, and they said that my wages would be a thousand pounds. My answer was that my wages would be one million pounds, and I thought that the matter would end here, but they agreed!”
In 1947, Lollobrigida participated in the Miss Italy contest, which was the reason for the launch of a number of famous actresses, and she came in third place. Two years later, she married Slovenian doctor Milko Scović.
Scovitch took some publicity photos of his then-almost unknown wife in a bikini. Those pictures caught the attention of one of the world’s richest people, Howard Hughes, who was thousands of miles away in Hollywood.
Hughes had just gained control of one of Hollywood’s biggest studios and was more than twenty years older than Gina Lollobrigida. He was known for having a series of relationships with the most famous and beautiful women of the era such as Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich and Ava Gardner.
Hughes contacted Lolorigida, offering to audition for a film job. She agreed, expecting her husband to accompany her to the United States, only to be surprised, on the day of her travel, that Hughes had sent one ticket, not two, as he had promised.
Hughes had prepared everything, sent Lollobrigida a divorce lawyer to meet her at the airport, booked her in a fancy hotel, provided her with a secretary and chauffeur, and showered her with courtship. He even deliberately had her audition role in the scene of the end of a marriage.
Lollobrigida spent about three months in the United States, and met Hughes daily, often eating in cheap restaurants, or on the back seat of his car to avoid the press and paparazzi.
Nevertheless, Gina Lollobrigida said she enjoyed the attention, later describing it as “very long, very interesting, much more than my husband”.
Before Gina left for Rome, Hughes offered her a seven-year contract, barring her from working with any other American studio. “I signed the contract because I wanted to go home,” Gina said.
Hughes pursued her constantly, even sending his lawyer after her to the Algerian desert where she was filming. Her husband was understanding of this decade-long infatuation.
Gina Lollobrigida avoided working in Hollywood, instead working in French and Italian cinema, starring in films such as “The Prodigal Wife” and “Bread, Love and Dreams”.
Her first English-language film, Defeat the Devil, co-starred with Humphrey Bogart and directed by John Huston, marked the beginning of a series of starring roles with the world’s biggest stars.
In Crossed Swords, her co-star was Errol Flynn; and Anthony Quinn in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. And she realized that her fame had become global when 60,000 people came to receive her in Argentina, including Argentine President Juan Peron at the time.
Gina Lollobrigida won awards for her role as an orphan girl in Beautiful But Dangerous, which co-starred with famous Italian actor Vittorio Gassman, and as a circus performer in Trapeze alongside Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.
She co-starred with Frank Sinatra in Never So View, a wartime romance filmed in Myanmar and Thailand, but later said she did not like Sinatra, that he was late for filming and had a complete lack of humour.
While filming the last part of her movie “Salman and Sheba”, her co-star Tyrone Power suffered a heart attack while filming another movie in Madrid.
One version of the story says that Bauer died in Lollobrigida’s car on the way to the hospital. Another says that he died in his dressing room, and was “walked out” of the studio, with a scarf tied under his jaw, so as not to appear open and reveal his death.
Regardless of the veracity of either version, the role was taken by Yul Brynner, and all of Bauer’s scenes were re-shot. The film’s scenes, which were considered scandalous, shocked Hollywood circles at the end of the fifties.
In 1960, Gina Lollobrigida moved to Canada in an effort to reduce taxes.
Her film career was slowing, but there was still room to work with Rock Hudson, her favorite actor.
The two stars co-starred in a number of romantic comedy films such as “Strange Bedfellows” and “Com September”, and after her long blocking of Hughes’ shows and most Hollywood celebrities, it was surprising that Rock Hudson did not care about her.
Gina Lollobrigida later said in an interview, “I knew right away that Rock Hudson was gay when he didn’t fall in love with me.”
The feud had begun between Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren, and Loren, who had married producer Carlo Ponti, said her “waist and chest” were more sculpted than Lollobrigida, who replied that Sofia could play “the role of peasant women, never ladies,” and “we are different.” Like a racehorse and a goat.”
Lollobrigida’s brief affair with heart transplant pioneer Christian Barnard was a direct cause of the end of her marriage. Italy had recently allowed divorce, and Gina Lollobrigida and her husband were among the first to divorce.
Lollobrigida’s famous saying is, “A woman at twenty is like ice, at thirty she’s warm, at forty she’s hot. We go up, men go down.”
She had many admirers, including Prince Rainier III of Monaco, although he was married to Grace Kelly. “He was courting me at their house, and obviously I said no!” she said.
Her last major film was “The King, Queen, and Runner-up” with actor David Niven in 1972, after which she participated in several American TV series, including “The Ship of Love”, but then she reproduced herself as an artist and changed her path.
Lollobrigida disguises herself in order to take award-winning photographs of her native Italy and witness her colossal marble and bronze sculptures at the World Expo in Seville.
And she photographed the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, in rare photo sessions that amazed the world, and she interviewed him, and she said, “We spent 12 days together. He did not interest me as a political leader, but as a man. He immediately realized that I did not go there to attack him, and he accepted me easily.”
Lollobrigida also worked with UNICEF and the United Nations, and entered a race to win a seat in the European Parliament, but was unsuccessful. She maintained her political activity until last year, and also ran for the Italian Senate, and she also did not succeed.
courts andyounger lovers
Despite the presence of many admirers and courtiers, “the most beautiful woman in the world” has not found the right man.
She said, “My experience is that when I find the right person, he runs away from me. Important men want to be the stars, they don’t accept being in your shadow.”
Gina Lollobrigda met Javier Rigao Ravoles, a charming Spanish young man who was 34 years younger than her, and they announced their engagement in 2006, but soon canceled it, and the story attracted intense attention from the press.
But Javier went ahead with the marriage project, had a wedding, and is said to have hired a woman to pretend to be Lollobrigida. According to the famous star, she discovered her marriage only by chance when she found documents proving this on the Internet.
Lollobrigida took legal action against Rigau, who in return brought witnesses and insisted that she had agreed to marry him by proxy under a power of attorney previously given to him.
Gina Lollobrigida lost the lawsuit to pursue Rigau legally, but the marriage was annulled in 2019 with the blessing of the Pope.
Lollobrigida filed another lawsuit, this time against her son Milko, who asked for custody of his mother’s financial dealings, now in her 80s. It is believed that the reason was her new relationship with a handsome young man in his twenties.
In later life, Lollobrigida preferred a life of solitude, although from time to time she gave a reception in her huge villa. With her young lover, she descended the magnificent emerald-studded interior staircase to salute the journalists.
“I’m just a movie star,” she used to say, imitating the voice of Norma Desmond, the main character in “Sunset Boulevard,” adding, “Because the audience wants me to be a star.”
Gina Lollobrigida lived up to the fading memory of her glory days as one of the cinema queens of the 1950s and 1960s, and only a few of her films are now considered classics.
But she was one of the most famous stars of her time, and her life story is no less strange and exciting than the stories of the films she starred in.
Her principle in life was simple: “We are all born to die. The difference is the intensity with which you choose to live your life.”