Gina Lollobridgida burst onto the international scene in the early 50s. She might well have been the most curvaceous actress of late classic Hollywood.

She entranced a host of famous men back then, and at the age of 93, perhaps still does today (after all, her net worth is put at least $50 million).

One of the few Italian actresses to make a splash in mainstream studio movies, she had a surprisingly varied career stretching over some 60 movies and tv credits across a half century.

She was a huge star in Italy, and successfully transformed herself as a likable sexpot/diva in the States.  She even turned up, perhaps inevitably, in episodes of TV’s Love Boat and Falcon Crest.

She represented Italian frivolity to a generation of American moviegoers.

It was natural that a race of bottom-pinchers should produce a Lollobrigida, wrote British critic David Thomson.  All this is to re-emphasize that the actress sported a spectacularly curvaceous figure.

Arriving in Hollywood in 1950, Gina swanned through a diverse collection of films starring big male stars at the time including Bogart, Frank Sinatra and Burt Lancaster.  Most of her 67 movie and tv credits were made in Europe, but she definitely left her mark.

Some tidbits:

— It was Howard Hughes who “discovered” Gina and brought her to Hollywood in 1950.  And Howard Hughes being Howard Hughes, romantically pursued her for decades thereafter.

Gig Young appeared with Gina in the 1965 comedy Strange Bedfellows.  Peter Lawford was in 1968’s Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell while Robert Morley accompanied Lollobrigida in 1966’s Hotel Paradiso.

— Re sister Italian sexpot, Sophia Loren.  Gina claimed that Sophia and her press agents started a rivalry’ with me — and she hasn’t stopped for 50 years.

— Lollobrigida speculates that occasional costar Rock Hudson may not have been gay back in the early-to-mid Sixties — people can change. When we did our love scenes, he was quite…normal…I felt something…it was more than a kiss.  He was the most adorable person I ever worked with.

Prince Rainier of Monaco, says Gina, often made passes at her in front of his famous wife, the earstwhile Grace Kelly.  She refused all entreaties, Gina adds.

— In 1949, Gina married a Slovenian physician who was seven years older than she was. The couple had a son but divorced in 1971.  More recently, Gina took up with a charming Spaniard more than 30 years her junior. The couple may or may not be married.  It’s complicated, and we’ll have to keep you posted.

Answers to Yesterday’s Mini-Quiz. Yes, our mystery woman is Italian actress Silvana Mangano.

Silvana Mangano (1930-1989) - Find A Grave Memorial
  1. ) Question: What was the title of the film that made Hollywood sit up and take notice this earthy actress. a) Caio, Irving; b) Bitter Rice; c) Love Me, Alfredo; or d) Red Roses. 1) Answer: b) Bitter Rice.
  2. ) Question: Our mystery leading lady was married for nearly 40 years to one of the most successful international film producers ever. Who is he? a) Joe Levine; b) Dino de Laurentiis; c) Carlo Ponti; or d) Darryl Zanuck.) 2) Answer: b) Dino DeLaurentiis.
  3. ) Question: Like Gina Lollobrigida and Eleanora Rossie Drago, our mystery woman began her career as a beauty contest winner. a) True; or b) False. 3) Answer: a) True.
  4. ) Question: Our mystery actress’ career was advanced early on by her love affair with which one of these important Italian actors? a) Enzio Pinza; b) Marcello Mastroianni; c) Raf Vallone; or d) Vittorio Gassman. 4) Answer: Marcello Mastroianni.
  5. ) Question: Which of these male stars did our mystery woman NOT costar with? a) Anthony Quinn; b) Jose Ferrer; c) Trevor Howard; or d) Dirk Bogarde. 5) Answer: Sorry, one of our trick questions. Mangano appeared in movies opposite all four actors.
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