Lollobrigida’s performance as the star in Luigi Comencini’s 1954 swashbuckler King, Queen and Knave (known as Crossed Swords in America) propelled her into international stardom. Since then she has appeared in other films such as Mario Soldati’s The Provinciale and Luigi Zampa’s Woman of Rome.
At the age of twenty-three, she earned her first BAFTA nomination with her appearance in John Huston’s 1953 film noir parody Beat the Devil; shortly thereafter, Beautiful but Dangerous made history and earned her one of many David di Donatello awards.
Early Life and Education
Lollobrigida began her career in beauty contests and modeling before going on to appear in several Italian films – most notably 1954’s Beat the Devil – where her performance cemented her status as an iconic sex symbol of the 1950s.
Howard Hughes had offered her a seven-year contract, but instead, she pursued independent American films such as Carol Reed’s Trapeze (1956) and Humphrey Bogart in King Vidor’s Solomon and Sheba (1959). Additionally, she appeared as one of the leads in Come September (1961) and Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell (68).
Lollobrigida married Yugoslavian doctor Milko Skofic in 1949. Leaving his medical practice behind to serve as her manager instead, they gave birth to one son before eventually divorcing in 1971.
Lollo, as she was more commonly known by fans, began her career competing in European beauty contests and modeling magazine covers before being noticed by director Mario Costa and becoming part of his production crew. From then on she appeared in various minor films before winning “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman” title in 1955.
Her most notable film performances included those in Luigi Zampa’s La Provinciale (The Provincial, American title: The Wayward Wife) and Alberto Lattuada’s Delitto di Giovanni Episcopo (The Crime of John the Bishop; American title: Flesh Will Surrender). Additionally, she became well-known as an accomplished sculptor.
Once her film career had diminished in the early 1970s, Lollobrigida went on to establish herself as an accomplished photojournalist and served as an ambassador for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Additionally, she continued making occasional TV appearances – most notably as a guest star in 1984’s Falcon Crest series.
Achievement and Honors
Gina Lollobrigida was known for her photography and sculpture as well. According to Parade magazine in 2000, Gina said of herself: “I studied painting and sculpting before becoming an actress by accident.” Gina also was active humanitarianism activist, donating part of her diamond collection towards stem cell research.
She made numerous films during the 1950s, such as Rossano Brazzi’s Return of the Black Eagle, Carol Reed’s Trapeze, Vittorio De Sica’s Anna of Brookyln and John Sturges/King Vidor’s Solomon and Sheba; for which she received both Nastro d’Argento and David di Donatello awards.
Her career took a turn for the worse in the 1970s; she costarred alongside David Niven in King, Queen and Knave and also appeared as an actor on Falcon Crest television series. Additionally, she served on the jury of Moscow International Film Festival eighteen in 1973.
Howard Hughes and Prince Rainier of Monaco both pursued Lollobrigida with interest; each wanted her to leave Italy and move to America. She ultimately married Yugoslavian physician Milko Skofic in 1949 – giving up his practice so as to be her manager and giving birth. They had one son together.
Caron had the distinction of appearing with stars such as Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Anthony Quinn as Esmeralda in Jean Delannoy’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956); Rock Hudson and Frank Sinatra in John Sturges’ Never So Few (1959), as well as Yul Brynner for King Vidor’s final film Solomon and Sheba (1959). Once her acting career ended she turned her attention to photography, sculpture and became a Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAOUN).
Lollobrigida was one of the biggest stars of European cinema during the 1950s. Her movies such as Beat the Devil, Trapeze and The Hunchback of Notre Dame earned her great acclaim from audiences everywhere.
As her acting career began to wind down in the 1970s, she launched a successful second career as a photographer. Her subjects included Henry Kissinger, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn and Salvador Dali as well as securing an exclusive interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
She married Slovenian doctor Milko Skofic in 1949 and gave birth to Andrea. However, following their separation in 1971 she started dating Javier Rigau y Rafols (34 years younger), an influential Spanish businessman whom she met later that same year in Rome where she currently resides and is 92 years old.