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Remembering legendary Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, dead at 95

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Legendary Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida died yesterday in Rome. She was 95 years old. Nicknamed La Lollo, she made dozens of movies in the U.S. and Europe after World War II. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has more.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Gina Lollobrigida melted the hearts of major stars in the 1950s and '60s - Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster. She was a voluptuous brunette with captivating brown eyes. In the 1968 comedy "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell," Lollobrigida plays a woman who isn't sure which American soldier fathered her daughter during the war.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BUONA SERA, MRS. CAMPBELL")

NAOMI STEVENS: (As Rosa) Three fathers?

GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA: (As Carla Campbell) Yes, three fathers.

STEVENS: (As Rosa) How could such a thing happen?

LOLLOBRIGIDA: (As Carla Campbell) You weren't here during the war. You don't know how it was that last summer.

BLAIR: Before working in film, she studied painting and sculpture in Rome. She also took singing lessons and dreamt of being an opera singer. That didn't happen. But she did star as one in a movie and said it wasn't dubbed.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEAUTIFUL BUT DANGEROUS")

LOLLOBRIGIDA: (As Lina Cavalieri, singing in Italian).

BLAIR: Lollobrigida embraced her role as a symbol of Italy, but she didn't think of acting as her life, as she told NPR in 1973.

LOLLOBRIGIDA: When I'm work, I'm work. When I'm out of the work, I want to feel like a normal person.

BLAIR: Later in life, Lollobrigida returned to visual arts, painting and photography, and she ran for political office. She recently told the Italian press she was determined to stay creative. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF BADBADNOTGOOD'S "BESIDE APRIL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Blair
Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.