Italian film legend Gina Lollobrigida dies aged 95

The actress was named ‘the most beautiful woman in the world' during her silver screen heyday.

Italian film star Gina Lollobrigida has died at the age of 95.

Her agent, Paola Comin, said the actress died in Rome on Monday.

Lollobrigida achieved international stardom during the 1950s and was dubbed “the most beautiful woman in the world”, after the title of one her movies in 1955.

Besides that movie, her career highlights included Golden Globe-winner Come September, with Rock Hudson; Trapeze; Beat the Devil, a 1953 John Huston film starring Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones; and Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell – for which she won Italy’s top movie award, a David di Donatello, as best actress in 1969.

Lollobrigida also was an accomplished painter and photographer, and she eventually essentially dropped film for the fine arts.

The former actress had surgery in September to repair a thigh bone broken in a fall. She returned home and said she had quickly resumed walking.

A drawn portrait of the diva graced a 1954 cover of Time magazine, which, in an article about Italian movie-making, likened her to a goddess.

Gina Lollobrigida and Rock Hudson
Lollobrigida starred alongside Rock Hudson in Come September (AP)

Lollo, as she was lovingly nicknamed by Italians, began making movies in Italy just after the end of the Second World War, as the country began to promote on the big screen a stereotypical concept of Mediterranean beauty as buxom and brunette.

In Italy, she worked with some of the country’s top directors following the war, including Mario Monicelli, Luigi Comencini, Pietro Germi and Vittorio De Sica.

Two of her more popular films at home were Comencini’s Pane Amore Fantasia (Bread Love Fantasy) in 1953, and the sequel a year later, Pane Amore Gelosia (Bread Love Jealousy).

In each of them, her male foil was Vittorio Gassman, one of Italy’s foremost leading men on the screen.

Gina Lollobrigida and Horst Buchholz
Lollobrigida, seen here with German actor Horst Buchholz – best known for his role in The Magnificent Seven – in 1958 (AP)

Lollobrigida began her career in beauty contests, posing for the covers of magazines and brief appearances in minor films. But her sexy image quickly propelled her to roles in major Italian and international movies.

While Lollobrigida played some dramatic roles, her characters were most popular in lighthearted comedies, like the Bread Love movies.

Lollobrigida was an accomplished sculptor, painter and photographer. With her camera, she roamed the world from the then-Soviet Union to Australia.

In 1974, Fidel Castro hosted her as a guest in Cuba for 12 days as she worked on a photo reportage.

She was born on July 4 1927 in Subiaco, a picturesque hill town near Rome, where her father was a furniture maker.