HER SWINGIN' '60s CREDENTIALS: A lusty busty Italian mama who was curvy and popular enough to rival the great Sophia Loren, Gina averaged almost two movies a year through the decade.
CATEGORIES OF SWINGIN CHICK: Movie Star
BIRTH: She was born in '27, thus she was 33 as the decade started (among the other actresses who were over thirty as the '60s began was Marilyn Monroe). Her exotic birthplace: Subiaco, Italy. Her moniker at birth: Luigina Lollobrigida, she did some modeling in the '40s under the name Diana Loris, and her nickname later became "La Lollo."
IMPACT ON THE '60s: Continuing the momentum she'd built up with prominent '50s films, Gina had tremendous world impact as the decade started, especially in Europe, but her importance diminished steadily through the decade as newer, younger, slimmer stars began shining brighter in important films; still, Playboy deemed her important enough to rank her #20 on their list of the "100 Sexiest Stars of the Century," right between Ursula Andress and Evelyn Nesbit (by the way, that Playboy list, which was published in January '99, includes two-dozen of our Swingin' Chicks of the '60s, including Sophia Loren at #6, Stella Stevens at #27, and Carroll Baker at #94.
CAREER IN THE '60s: Gina made movies almost every year of the decade, including four in '66 and three in '68, but by '69 her output was definitely slowing. Her English-speaking films of the '60s included Go Naked in the World and Come September, both in 61, and minor comedies Strange Bedfellows in '64 and The Private Navy of Sgt. O' Farrell with Bob Hope and Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (the latter two both in '68).
CAREER OUTSIDE THE '60s: Using the name Diana Loris she was a model for illustrated novels before she was in movies. From modeling she went to participating successfully in several beauty contests. then she made over three-dozen Italian films in the '40s and '50s. Her Hollywood breakthrough came in '54s Beat the Devil, 1956s Trapeze, and '59s Solomon and Sheba as her outfits got skimpier and skimpier. She had a sporadic output after the '60s and was still making mostly foreign films. She resorted to TV in the '80s "Falconcrest" and a TV movie, Deceptions. She spent more time developing her photography skills and had a collection of her work, Italia Mia, published in '73. She directed a documentary, Portrait of Fidel Castro, '75, and got an exclusive interview with and photos of the reclusive Cuban leader. She then became a corporate exec for fashion and cosmetics companies. Unlike other stars who have become reclusive and let themselves go as they hit their seventies, Gina has managed to hold onto most of her looks and is still active. As she told Parade in April 2000, "I studied painting and sculpting at school and became an actress by mistake," and to prove it she's preparing an exhibition of her bronze sculptures that will tour the U.S. in 2001.
TALENT: She went as far as her looks took her, which was pretty dang far. She won the '61 Golden Globe as the Worlds Film Favorite.
HER '60s LOOK: Gina was definitely more '50s than '60s. Her earthy look and short "tossed salad" hairdo were especially influential, and in fact there's a type of curly lettuce named lollo in honor of her cute 'do. You may recall a famous "I Love Lucy" episode where the Ricardos and Mertzes are in Italy and Lucy and Ethel muss up their hair and start emoting in Italian -- Gina's the star they're imitating. Impressed by her voluptuous shape on the set of Never So Few in '59, Frank Sinatra called out to her, "Walk a little slower, baby, so we can enjoy it a longer time." To show how dramatic her figure was, the French added a new word to their vocabulary in honor of her physical attributes -- the term lollobrigidienne, translated as "curvaceous."
LIFESTYLE: She was married from '49 to '71 to Milko Skofic, a Yugoslavian doctor, that one ended in divorce. She had likely affairs with Cuban cigar-chomper Fidel Castro, famous cueball Yul Brynner, and heart-transplant-pioneer Dr. Christian Barnard. In April 2000 she told Parade magazine, "I've had many lovers and still have romances. I am very spoiled. All my life, I've had too many admirers. But, except for one husband, Milko Skofic, God has saved me from many bad marriages."
EXTRAS: She placed third in the 1947 Miss Italy contest, the winner Lucia Bose and runner-up Gianna Maria Canale both became actresses in Italian movies .. Gina was on the cover of Life magazine, September 3, 1951 and November 15, 1954 ... co-starring with Gina in '68's Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell was another Swingin' Chick of the '60s, Janet Margolin, who played Gina's daughter ... in June '99 Gina became a politician and ran unsuccessfully for one of Italy's 87 European Parliament seats from her hometown of Subiaco; director Franco Zeffirelli, who directed Olivia Hussey in 1968's Romeo and Juliet, ran for another seat from his hometown of Florence, but he too was defeated.