One of the final actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age, Gina Lollobrigida is a legendary actress. The Italian bombshell, one of the most well-known European actresses of her day, first gained notoriety as a sex icon before later in life switching to other creative endeavors.
Lollobrigida, who is 95 years old, has a record that is really outstanding. She first rose to stardom as an actor, but this multifaceted woman also found tremendous success in photojournalism and eventually reverted back to her first passions: sculpture and sketching.
Additionally, she has long been a proponent of Italian and Italian American issues. In 2013, she auctioned off her remarkable jewelry collection and gave the $5 million proceeds to stem-cell therapy research. Even in her mid-90s, Lollobrigida shows no signs of slowing down, in contrast to many people her age who want to settle down and unwind in their golden years.
Nevertheless, despite being a global sex icon, Lollobrigida never got used to her degree of celebrity. In a 2001 interview, she stated:
“Never did I adjust to the success. I find success embarrassing, and being stared at makes me uncomfortable. I never looked for attention. I’ve been exposed too much. I’ve been featured on 7,000 covers, yet I’ve never paid for an article. A good record, actually. Even so, I never hired a PR. The Americans found it hard to believe.”
This woman is a force to be reckoned with, and she’s always looking for new challenges. She doesn’t seem to have any words for slowing down. Let’s look at her remarkable life and her current activities.
The fourth of four daughters, Lollobrigida was born on July 4, 1927, in Subiaco, Rome. She participated in beauty pageants and modeling when she was younger. Around this period, she started making her first appearances in Italian cinema. She had started studying drawing and sculpture at Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, which was actually her first love.
She was actually properly found outside of the institution by executives from Rome’s renowned Cinecittà Studios. In 2015, she admitted to Vanity Fair that she had no desire to attend an audition, “but they persisted.” Added her:
“When they offered me my first role, I declined. Again, they insisted. They offered to pay me 1,000 lire if my mother could persuade me. I thus offered them my price of one million lire in the hope that this would end the conversation. nonetheless, they agreed!”
As a result, Lollobrigida received all she requested throughout her career, frequently without having to ask. She remembered:
“I found success quite quickly. I never had to make a request for anything. Because they always gave me so much more, I had no choice but to say yes. I once had my co-star, the director, and the script’s approval as part of my contract in addition to receiving 10% of the overall revenue. Because I rejected it and didn’t care about it, I received more notoriety than anyone else.”
Nevertheless, Lollobrigida became a star in the Italian and Hollywood cinema industries.
She first entered the public spotlight in the late 1940s, and her beauty was immediately recognized. She competed in numerous beauty pageants and won many of them, which led to more film roles in Italian productions. She gained notoriety for her voluptuous shape and was given the nickname “La Lollo” by the media. She certainly captured many with her stunning looks, but she also rose to fame for her extraordinary talent. She gained notoriety as a possible major star after her portrayal in the romantic comedy “Bread, Love and Dreams” (1953).
She also caught the eye of Howard Hughes, a powerful figure in Hollywood, in the 1950s. She was brought to Los Angeles at his expense, and he set up English classes, voice lessons, and other things for the blossoming actress. He tried to woo her away from her husband, Slovenian doctor Milko Skofic, every day for the two and a half months she was there. Lollobrigida, though, stood by her husband.
In her interview, she stated: “He made numerous attempts to capture me. But he was unsuccessful. I sought to be accurate.”
She described her lack of interest in Hughes as follows:
“Simply put, our differences were too great. I told him that if he lost all of his money, maybe I would marry him. Perhaps he was taken aback by the fact that one individual wasn’t after his money.”
But before she left for Italy, Hughes gave Lollobrigida a seven-year deal with RKO Pictures. She signed the deal to appease him, even though it made it difficult for her to work with other Hollywood companies for years to come. She later acknowledged that he pursued her for an overall period of 13 years.
Lollobrigida carried on acting for a few more decades, appearing in numerous films produced by the Italian, French, and American cinema industries up until the 1970s. The Wayward Wife, Woman of Rome, Beat the Devil, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Come September, Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell, and other films are among her most well-known works.
Her co-stars in the films were Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn, Tony Curtis, and Rock Hudson, as well as other notable figures from the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was even said to be Sophia Loren’s rival because of her fame as an Italian bombshell. Lollobrigida, however, asserted that such a thing never ever existed and was instead a fabrication of Loren and her publicists.
She stated: “She started this ‘rivalry’ with me with the help of her press agents, and she hasn’t stopped for 50 years. I found it to be quite dull. That was enough for me. She continued it even after switching press agents, which I’ve never done.
Lollobrigida continued, “We are unique… We chose entirely different professions. More than everything, I wanted to be an artist. I desired a high-caliber career.
She appeared in a few television shows after her film career slowed down in the 1970s, and she even lent her critical eye as a judge for major international film festivals. This included serving as a member of the jury for the 1973 8th Moscow International Film Festival and later serving as the jury chair for the 1986 36th Berlin International Film Festival.
This Italian beauty didn’t go away as her acting career gradually faded into the background. She had a great and interesting career as a photojournalist thanks to her passion. She really developed a reputation for having a keen eye for photography and was tasked with capturing images of some of the most well-known individuals in history, including Audrey Hepburn, Henry Kissinger, Paul Newman, Salvador Dali, and Ella Fitzgerald. She even managed to interview Fidel Castro during her photojournalistic career.
The former actress-turned-photojournalist described how she made the transition in an interview with Alain Elkann from 2001. She claimed that although she “never quit,” she eventually began “shooting images because (she) wanted to do fewer films.” She continued:
“I started doing work for Time Life. I fell in love with photography after working on a book about Italy and realizing how creative it can be. I spent thirty years as a photographer. Being seen is boring compared to observing. Finding others helps you discover more about yourself.”
She published several photography books, including “Italia Mia,” which had images from all across Italy, “Filippine,” which featured images from the Philippines, and “Magica Innocenza,” which featured images of kids and animals.
But Lollobrigida wasn’t content to sit back and enjoy her success; she gradually quit working as a photojournalist and eventually came back to her first loves, sculpture and sketching. In the Italian city of Pietrasanta, she maintains a studio that she called “the right environment for my work.” In the same interview, she clarified:
“I started devoting myself to my old loves, sculpting and painting, which I had given up on when I was a young girl and went to the Fine Arts Academy in Rome, more than ten years ago.”
In an interview, Lollobrigida responded, “Fate took me in a different route,” when asked why she didn’t pursue a profession as a painter or sculpture when she was younger. She then went on to describe how studio executives approached her to start her career. She had a successful career, but in the early 1990s, when she was already in her 60s, her first love of sketching and sculpture beckoned. She praised her job with pride:
“I created a child flying joyfully on an eagle for the Seville Expo in 1992 after being invited there. The Légion d’honneur was a great honor for me to receive after French President Mitterrand expressed his admiration for this statue.”
When asked what about sculpture appeals to her, she responded:
“Not just shape is of fascination to me. In addition, I want my art to be filled with emotion and spirituality. I wanted to depict in my sculptures the vibrant and imaginative golden age of 1950s movies, which I had personally experienced. I achieved this by recapturing that feeling in my photos of some of the most well-known individuals.”
“Finally, I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a youngster,” she continued.
The former actress does not allow her age prevent her from pursuing her dreams. Lollobrigida continues to work on exciting projects far into her 90s. She has recently developed a strong interest in helping those who are less fortunate. She accumulated an outstanding collection of priceless jewelry over the years, and in 2013, she liquidated the majority of it and donated the proceeds—$5 million—to stem cell research.
It’s understandable why Lollobrigida attracted the attention of so many different guys given that she was one of the most attractive actresses of her era. Sinatra was another of Lollobrigida’s fans, joining Hughes, who chased her for more than ten years. He “was really kind to me,” she remarked before adding:
“He relentlessly chased me. He arrived at the airport to pick me up while I was standing at the foot of the plane’s stairs. In Las Vegas, he performed a concert in my honor. I felt a little guilty and embarrassed by all the attention. I thus gave him two watercolors by Dali.”
Lollobrigida gave birth to a kid named Milko Skofic Jr. with her husband, but she stayed devoted to him. They stayed together until their divorce in 1971. Prince Rainier III of Monaco was interested in her after she became a single woman, although he was still engaged to Grace Kelly at the time. As Lollobrigida stated to Vanity Fair:
“He would flirt with me in front of her while we were at their house. Naturally, I replied, “No!” For twenty years, he was furious with me for rejecting him. But after she passed away, he stopped caring, and we reestablished our friendship.”
She did, however, get remarried in 2006 at the age of 79 to a Spanish businessman who was almost half her age. But five years into their relationship, she filed for divorce and charged him with fraud.
But Lollobrigida made a point to show that she still had a passion for life by throwing a huge birthday party in Rome to celebrate turning 90. The actor-turned-artist has undoubtedly lived life to the fullest with everything she has done. She revealed:
“I want the world to know that life continues on.”
One can only speculate as to what kinds of surprises this fiery woman has in store for us in the future given her zeal and desire for trying new things.