On the screen she turned the heads of Hollywood stars in turn, on the red carpets Gina Lollobrigida always liked to stage herself as a great diva. In unusual evening gowns, with garish make-up and with a shrill head of hair, the Italian with the complicated surname was unique. She never let herself be pinned down to one profession. She was a cinema icon, a sex symbol, a photojournalist, a sculptor and a UN ambassador - and she was always independent in everything.
It was all the more painful for an entire country when "Lollo" was incapacitated after a family quarrel and has only begged for her dignity in recent years. Now Gina Lollobrigida has died at the age of 95 - Italy loses one of its big stars.
Born in 1927 in the small town of Subiaco east of Rome, Gina was chosen as the most beautiful toddler in a competition when she was just three years old. After the Second World War, she went to the capital, wanted to study painting and sculpture, and made ends meet with extras and charcoal drawings of guests in the bars.
Started in the 40's
She came to film by accident: she was discovered on the street in 1946 and engaged by producer Mario Costa for the film "Opernrausch" in 1947. Only her name initially seems too difficult even for the directors - they want to call the promising young star "Diana Lori". Lollobrigida resists: "Despite our long name, my uncle has become a well-known painter."
Based on one of her film titles, the brunette actress has long been considered "the most beautiful woman in the world". In the 1950s and 1960s she caused a sensation as an ensnared heartthrob. But Gina - a pet form of the name Luigina - always has more to offer: she has appeared in more than 60 films and later made a second and third career with the camera and as a sculptor.
In the early 1970s, "Gina Nazionale" decided to change roles from film to photography - with good reason: "I refused to undress," she later explains. As a result, the film producers would have ignored them.
Von Pelé bis Dalí
No problem for the self-confident Italian, who quickly concentrates on her other passion. She photographs celebrities such as Fidel Castro, Brazilian soccer idol Pelé, Ronald Reagan, Paul Newman and Salvador Dalí. Even the German national soccer team poses in front of her lens.
The third career followed in the 1990s. Lollobrigida practically returns to her beginnings and takes lessons from the well-known sculptor Giacomo Manzù. Later she worked frequently in her studio in Pietrasanta in Tuscany, exhibiting sculptures in Moscow and Seville. She is also committed to a better world and becomes a UNICEF and FAO ambassador.
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
Gina Lollobrigida's worldwide successes include films such as "Fanfan, the Hussar" and "The Beauties of the Night" as well as "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame", where she plays the adored Esmeralda alongside "Quasimodo" Anthony Quinn. She has shot alongside Humphrey Bogart, Marcello Mastroianni, Sean Connery, Alec Guinness, Burt Lancaster and Rock Hudson and has worked with directors such as Howard Hughes and René Clair.
However, Lollobrigida never received an Oscar, which her compatriots Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani received. For this she was received in Washington by President Eisenhower and received the "Officer's Cross for Art and Science" from the French Minister of Culture in 1985.
According to her own statements, she is “less lucky than others” “in matters of the heart”. In 1949 she married the Yugoslav doctor Milko Skofic. The marriage, which ended in divorce in 1971, produced a son, Milko Jr. "Lollo" is then said to have had numerous affairs with billionaire Howard Hughes and politician Henry Kissinger.
In 2006, at the age of 79, she made headlines again when she wanted to marry Javier Rigau, who was 34 years her junior. But that doesn't happen - the Spaniard turns out to be a marriage swindler.
In her final years, a young man is again the focus, "my great happiness," as Lollobrigida says. He is officially her assistant and lives with his family at the actress's. Son Milko claims that the man manipulated the elderly woman. Because of this and as a result of the scandal surrounding the Spanish fraudster, the son arranges for a financial guardian to be placed in front of his mother. Lollobrigida and her lawyer believe that Milko only cares about her mother's assets.
"I have the right to live in peace, but also to die in peace," says Lollobrigida in a TV interview in 2021. "At my age I should have some peace. But I don't have that. I'm tired. I should be allowed to die in peace."