Gina Lollobrigida (1927-January 16, 2023)
The Italian superstar Gina Lollobrigida has died at age 95. For people of my parent’s generation Gina Lollobrigida was a source of pride, a stunningly beautiful woman who became a star, and sex symbol, but who always retained an air of royalty and dignity. Once dubbed “the most beautiful women in the world” (though she has lots of competition in Italy, by actresses such as Sophia Loren, Sylvana Mangano, Claudia Cardinale, Monica Vitti, Stefania Sandrelli, Ornella Mutti, Monica Bellucci, and others!) Gina was one of the first Italian actresses to make it big in Hollywood, when Howard Hughes (who was madly in love with her) signed her to a multi-picture deal in 1950. Her best films were Beat the Devil, (1953, John Huston) where she showed a comic touch alongside Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre and Jennifer Jones (what a cast!), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956, with Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo), Topaz (1956, by Sir Carol Reed), Woman of Straw (1964,Basil Dearden, starring Sean Connery), The Law (1959, Jules Dassin, opposite the wonderful Pierre Brasseur of Les Yeux sans visage, and Marcello Mastroianni), The Unfaithfuls (1953, co-directed by the great Mario Monicelli and Steno), Solomon and Sheba (1959, dir. King Vidor), and Bread, Love and Dreams (1953, Luigi Comencini, opposite matinee idol turned director Vittorio De Sica). Perhaps not as great an actress as Anna Magnani, Monica Vitti, Alida Valli or Stefania Sandrelli, but there were few actresses who epitomized big screen glamour and beauty more than Gina. RIP.