Gina Lollobrigida speaks to Good News at the Friars Club in New York city. Born July 4, 1927, is an Italian actress and photojournalist. She was one of the most prominent actresses in Europe of the 1950s and early 1960s. Today, she remains an active supporter of Italian and Italian American causes, particularly the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF). In 2008, she received the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award at the Foundation’s Anniversary Gala.
Born Luigina Lollobrigida in Subiaco, Italy, she was one of four daughters of a furniture manufacturer (her sisters are Giuliana, Maria and Fernanda). She spent her youth in a picturesque mountain village. In her youth, Gina did some modelling, and from there she went to participate successfully in several beauty contests. At around this time, she began appearing in Italian language films. In 1947, Gina entered the Miss Italia pageant and came in 3rd place. The contest was won by Lucia Bos and second place was Gianna Maria Canale they would both go on to be actresses, though
neither would come near Lollobrigida’s success.
Her appearance in Italian films and French films as Fanfan la Tulipe brought her to the attention of Hollywood and she made her first American film, Beat the Devil, in 1953 with Humprey Bogart and Jennifer Jones. As her popularity increased, Lollobrigida earned the nickname The World’s Most Beautiful Woman after her signature 1955 movie.
She made another notable appearance in Trapeze with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in 1956 and starred in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Anthony Quinn the same year. In 1959 she co-starred with Frank Sinatra in Never So Few and with Yul Brynner in Solomon and Sheba. The latter was notable for having Brynner replace Tyrone Power (who died during filming), for being the last film directed by King Vidor, and for an orgy scene extremely licentious for Hollywood motion pictures of that era.
Lollobrigida in Solomon and Sheba (1959)
In 1961 she made one of her most popular films, Come September, with Rock Hudson, for which she won the Golden Globe as “World Film Favorite”. She co-starred with Sean Connery in 1964’s Woman of Straw. She co-starred with Rock Hudson again in 1965’s Strange Bedfellows and appeared alongside Alec Guinness in 1966’s Hotel Paradiso. In 1968 she starred in the enjoyable Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell with Shelley Winters, Phil Silvers, and Telly Savalas, the plot of which is the basis for the stage musical Mamma Mia!. For this role she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Lollobrigida co-starred with Bob Hope in the comedy The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell and also accompanied Hope on his visits to military troops overseas.
By the 1970s her film career had wound down. She appeared in only a few poorly received productions in the early part of the decade. In the mid 80s, she starred in the television series Falcon Crest as Francesca Gioberti, a role originally written for Sophia Loren who turned it down. She also had a supporting role in the 1985 TV mini series Deceptions, costarring Stephanie Powers.
In 1986, she was the head of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival which awarded the Golden Bear to Reinhard Hauff’s film Stammheim, although she herself, infringing the Festival rules, distanced herself publicly from the decision, claiming the decision had been made for political reasons. She made a few minor film appearances in the 1990s.
The Friars Club – There is no institution that has embraced Shakespeare’s observation with so much unbridled bravado than that of the Friars Club. They have parlayed one hundred years of antics into a reputation that has been elevated to legendary status. Since 1904 The Friars Club has been wining and dining the top personalities of the times and in-between courses expounding and discoursing in their own unique fashion. From ribald comedy to musical merry-making the Friars have spent a century cultivating a tradition that has spanned several generations and spawned millions of laughs