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Lollo. The most beautiful woman in the world

“Stars never leave each other, that’s why they are stars,” Gloria Swanson – aka Norma Desmond – recites in her poignant delirium in Billy Wilder’s masterpiece “Sunset Boulevard” about cinema, success and the inexorable passage of time.

A star and sex symbol of international cinema, Lollo was, along with Sophia Loren, the image of Italian beauty in the 1950s and 1960s.  Like her rival, she was ambitious, determined, combative and extraordinarily beautiful, a beauty that earned her third place in the 1947 Miss Italy contest behind Lucia Bosè and Gianna Maria Canale.

With Christian-Jaque’s Fanfan “La Tulipe” in 1952 (Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival) she became famous in France. In Italy her popularity arrived with “Altri tempi” by Alessandro Blasetti (1952), in the episode “Il Processo di Frine” with Vittorio De Sica, whom she met again the following year in Luigi Comencini’s enchanting “Pane, amore e fantasia” (Silver Bear in Berlin) where she played the role of the bersagliera, winning the award Nastro d’Argento. The beautiful poor commoner with a heart of gold: Gina Lollobrigida has now entered the collective imagination.

In 1955 she became Robert Z. Leonard’s “Beautiful but Dangerous”, a biographical film (with Vittorio Gassman) about the life of soprano Lina Cavalieri.

Thanks to her performance (also as an excellent opera singer!), Gina won the David di Donatello for Best Actress in a Leading Role, an award that the Italian Film Academy instituted that very year. She subsequently starred in: Carol Reed’s “Trapeze” (1956, starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis), Jean Delannoy’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1956, she is a stunning Esmeralda, opposite Anthony Quinn), John Sturges’ “Never So Few” (1959, opposite Frank Sinatra) and King Vidor’s “Solomon and the Queen of Sheba” (1959).

Through these films, Lollo became one of the symbols of Italian cinema in the world, marking – together with Sophia Loren – an era and setting the aesthetic canons of what is still today known as the ‘maggiorata of the 1950s’, an icon of unbridled and sensual femininity. Between sumptuous dresses and suits, jewellery and stiletto heels, hats and scarves, elbow-length gloves and plunging necklines, Gina Lollobrigida became the diva everyone wanted to court.

The 1960s marked her consecration. In 1961, after filming Ranald MacDougall’s “Go Naked for the World”, she starred alongside Rock Hudson and Sandra Dee in Robert Mulligan’s “Come September”, a film that won her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

In the 1970s she became interested in photography and sculpture with the curiosity that has always characterised her film choices. Her portraits of Paul Newman, Salvador Dalí, Henry Kissinger, David Cassidy, Audrey Hepburn and Ella Fitzgerald are famous.

The forthcoming Furniture Auction on 28 May will feature 410 lots for free bidding that furnished her beloved home on the Appia Antica in Rome, including a fine selection of jewellery (lots 1 – 22), awards and honours (lots 302 – 308 and 315 – 324) and much-loved memorabilia from film collectors, such as the digital watch given to her in the early 1970s by Fidel Castro (lot 23), the pair of swords used in a scene from the film “Beautiful but Dangerous” (lot 314), Bill Clinton’s letter on the occasion of the 55th Boys Towns of Italy Ball on 14 April 2000 (lot 315).

Signs of an immortal success are the star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” awarded to Lollo on 1 February 2018 (lot 322) and the prestigious honours of “Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et Des Lettere” and “Ordre National de la Lègion d’Honneur” conferred in 1985 and 1992 respectively (lot 308).

Lastly, the Golden Globe in 1961 for “Come September” (lot 304), the Nastri d’Argento in 1954 for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Pane Amore e Fantasia”, in 1963 for “Venere Imperiale” and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022 (lot 306) and the David del Cinquantenario in 2006, which awarded the most prestigious representatives of the main categories in the history of Italian cinema (lot 323).