At age 90, Gina Lollobrigida has finally earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame — nearly seven decades after the Italian actress achieved international stardom as a sought-after sex symbol in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
But Lollobrigida may have been too busy to notice something was missing from her career. The screen siren didn’t just tantalize audiences in films opposite iconic leading men, such as Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn and Anthony Quinn. She’s also been traveling the world and pursuing her first love: sculpture.
Fox News spoke with Lollobrigida about her journey to Hollywood, impressing past Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and why she refuses to slow down anytime soon.
Fox News: How do you feel about getting a star on the Walk of Fame?
Gina Lollobrigida: I didn’t expect it after so many years. It’s beautiful and very nice that people still remember me. It’s a big honor for me.
Fox News: Did you ever believe Americans would continue to celebrate your work after all of this time?
Lollobrigida: Not at all! I didn’t expect it obviously, but I’m very grateful. American fans are very faithful even though I have so much popularity all over the world because of my movies.
Fox News: You were called “the most beautiful woman in the world” in Hollywood. How did you feel about the title?
Lollobrigida: I was photogenic, probably (laughs). They always said I was the most beautiful woman in the world. But I also think every woman who is loved is just as beautiful. But I stopped movies after a while.
I’ve always had a big desire to make art. I pursued photography, which gave me a lot of joy to know people and the world. I met people who lived on the streets and had nothing. It fascinated me to see a new side to life and photography was really a good experience for me. I then wanted to try sculpture. And this is what I hope the American public will learn about me as soon as possible. Because my desire really is art… This is how you will know me completely.
Fox New: How would you describe your journey to Hollywood?
Lollobrigida: When I came to America for the first time, I did my first movie here with Frank Sinatra at MGM. They treated me like a queen. It was very nice. Usually when you start a career, people can be very severe. But here, I was welcomed like royalty. They were happy to fulfill every desire just to satisfy me. I had a very good experience… I was spoiled. But my first American film was with Humphrey Bogart. I was in very good company — Jennifer Jones, John Huston directing.
I remember Humphrey said, “Don’t study so much English! If you lose your accent, it will be a pity.” The one person who didn’t love me was David O. Selznick. He was married to Jennifer at the time and was worried about me getting all the attention. He even asked me not to be in the movie. But I told him, “Sorry, I have my contract. You can’t throw me out.” And I did the movie despite of him… I always go on with life. I don’t care about its difficulties. I just love life and no one was able to stop me and what I wanted to do.
Fox News: Humphrey Bogart once said you made Marilyn Monroe look like Shirley Temple.
Lollobrigida: It was flattering (laughs). But I met Marilyn and we became good friends in Hollywood. She was so modest and sweet as a person. But she was not so strong, like I was. I had a very strong character. But poor Marilyn — she tried to have a decent life. It’s not easy when you’re so popular… Being popular can bring satisfaction, but at the same time, too much popularity can bring jealousy, especially from men.
Fox News: As a photojournalist, you had the opportunity to interview Fidel Castro later in your career. What was he like?
Lollobrigida: He was very nice. He was a great admirer of mine. I gave the interview to Time. Unfortunately, the journalist for Time spent five months in Cuba and they couldn’t even photograph not even the shadow of Fidel Castro. I was just there for 12 days and he showed me Cuba.
I also met his brother and he joked, “Now that Gina is here, you show up!” And he invited my son to visit so he can learn Spanish… I didn’t interview him politically. I didn’t care about the politics. I wanted to understand the man behind the figure who was always on the first pages of newspapers… I also spent a lot of time traveling. I wanted to experience the world and its people… I was especially in love with Mother Teresa. The country where I left my heart was India. I like the people there. And when you know India, you know all of the world.
Fox News: It’s been said you refused Howard Hughes’ marriage proposal because he was too rich.
Lollobrigida: Yes, and it was he who brought me to America. But I don’t care about money. I care about my work and the ability to express myself. He wanted to marry me and he didn’t stop courting me for 12 years. He was the most persistent! He was a man who wanted me very badly. I think he was in love with me because I was different from the other stars. They just thought about careers and money (laughs).
Fox News: What do you remember the most about your friend, opera star Maria Callas?
Lollobrigida: Oh, the poor woman. She was in love with Onassis. So much. And she was so disappointed when Onassis went away not because he was really in love with Jacqueline Kennedy, but because he made a bet with another rich Greek friend. That was the reason, believe it or not. Terrible.
So she suffered a lot. But she never complained. She was really a lady. She will obviously be remembered for her incredible voice. And when I sang in one movie, she couldn’t believe that was my voice. She said, “Gina, is that really your voice?’ That can’t be, it’s too much!” (laughs).
Fox News: What has been the secret behind your lasting success?
Lollobrigida: In the beginning, I didn’t want to do movies. But, this was after the war and we lost everything. So to help my family was a good thing. I was stopped on the street after attending the school of art. They offered me 1,000 lire a day. That’s about one dollar or something like that today. But at the time, it was big money. So I started acting this way and after I met Vittorio De Sica then obviously I understood cinema was an art, a beautiful art, with a lot of advantages.
After a little time, I was well known all over the world. This was a big surprise for me. I continued working and did Italian, French and English films. And in all my films I dubbed so that they would have my voice all the time. So if I did an Italian film, I would dub it in English and French too… I’ve been really working my entire life. I’m still working. I guess that is the secret. Keep your brain active… Because life is precious. And even now where there aren’t so many good situations in the world, I just feel that as long as I work, I’m alive.