Gina Lollobrigida death: Italian culture minister says her 'charm will remain eternal'

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni described her as a 'great talent, passionate, intense, enthralling'

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Italian actor Gina Lollobrigida, one of the last pillars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, has died aged 95, culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano announced on Monday.

"Farewell to a diva of the silver screen, protagonist of more than half a century of Italian cinema history. Her charm will remain eternal," Sangiuliano wrote after Italy's Ansa news agency reported her death.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also paid tribute to Lollobrigida, famed when younger for her biting wit and beauty, describing the actor as a "great talent, passionate, intense, enthralling".

She was "one of the most important performers of her generation, who contributed to the diffusion of the Italian image in the world," Meloni said.

Ansa reported that Lollobrigida had undergone an operation in a Rome clinic in September after breaking her femur.

Gina Lollobrigida in the 1950s. AP Photo

Her funeral will be held on Thursday in one of the churches in Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

Best known for Luigi Comencini's 1953 classic Bread, Love and Dreams, and Jean Delannoy's 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lollobrigida starred with many of the leading men of the time, including Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster and Humphrey Bogart.

Born on July 4, 1927, in Subiaco, a mountain village 50kms east of Rome, her big breakthrough came in 1953 starring alongside Bogart in John Huston's romp Beat the Devil.

Bogart said at the time Lollobrigida made "Marilyn Monroe look like Shirley Temple".

The actress won seven David di Donatello awards, Italy's Oscar equivalent.

But by the 1970s, she had turned from acting to sculpture and photojournalism, including getting a scoop interview and photo shoot with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

She was back in the spotlight in 2021, amid a bitter legal battle with her son over her fortune.

Italy's Supreme Court ruled that she needed a legal guardian to stop people from preying on her wealth, because of a "weakening" in her perception of reality.

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Updated: January 17, 2023, 5:45 AM