Why you should care

Because towering genius comes in all kinds of packages.

You’ve reached a certain special circle of celebrity when the mere mention of your name is used as shorthand to describe the indescribable.

Gina Lollobrigida’s name was like this.

From the mid-1940s through the 1960s (she was born in Italy in 1927), Lollobrigida seemed all at once to suggest the exotic and the erotic – and a sly acknowledgment that none of this was to be taken particularly seriously. This was aggressively aided by Lollobrigida, who considered herself first and foremost an artist - she was a schooled painter and sculptor, and in later years an award-winning photojournalist who took a detour into acting. Her public persona was just a little bit smarter and more self-aware than many of her contemporaries. Then and now.

“A woman at 20 is like ice,” Lollobrigida once famously said. “At 30 she is warm and at 40 she is hot.” No word yet on the intervening decades she’s ripped through at her ranch in Sicily (though she just appeared at a gala event in Bern, Switzerland with none other than “The Saint” Roger Moore) but they’ve no doubt been as fabulous as she is. With more than 60 some-odd films to her credit (her American debut was Beat the Devil with Bogie), a Golden Globe, three books, scooping the entire mass media in the 1970s with an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro, and a not-so-well publicized affair with heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard, the still-living Lollobrigida is still thriving.

Forthwith, a clip of her from 1955’s Beautiful But Dangerous.

Meraviglioso!

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