ROME — Italian actress Gina Lallabrigida, who achieved international film stardom in the 1950s and was called “the most beautiful woman in the world” by the title of one of her films, died in Rome on Monday, her agent said. She was 95.
Paolo Comin’s agent did not provide details. But in September, Lalabrigida underwent an operation to repair the femur, which was broken in a fall. She returned home and said she quickly regained her gait.
A painted portrait of the diva graced the cover of Time magazine in 1954, which likened her to a “goddess” in an article about Italian filmmaking. More than half a century later, Lallabrigida still commanded attention with her head of curly brown hair and her statuesque figure.
“Lola”, as she was affectionately nicknamed by the Italians, began filming in Italy right after the end of World War II, when the country began to promote on the big screen the stereotype of the Mediterranean beauty as curvaceous and brunette.
In addition to The Most Beautiful Woman in the World in 1955, career highlights included the Golden Globe-winning Come September with Rock Hudson; “Trapeze”; Beat the Devil, a 1953 John Huston film starring Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones; and “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” which won Italy’s top film award for Davide di Donatello’s Lallabrigida as best actress in 1969.
In Italy, she worked with some of the country’s leading directors after the war, including Mario Manicelli, Luigi Camencini, Pietro Germi and Vittorio De Sica.
Two of her more popular films at home were Pane Amore Fantasia in 1953 and the sequel a year later, Pane Amore Gelosia. In each of them, her male role was Vittorio Gusman, one of Italy’s leading men on the screen.
Lollobrigida began her career in beauty pageants, posing for magazine covers and appearing briefly in minor films. But her sexy image quickly pushed her to roles in major Italian and international films.
While Lollobrigida had several dramatic roles, her characters were most popular in light comedies such as the Bread Love films.
Lallabrigida was also an accomplished sculptor, painter, and photographer, eventually abandoning film for fine art. With her camera, she wandered the world from the then Soviet Union to Australia.
In 1974, Fidel Castro hosted her in Cuba for 12 days while she was working on a photo report.
She was born on July 4, 1927, in Subiaco, a picturesque town in the hills near Rome, where her father worked as a furniture maker.
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