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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T oday is Monica Bellucci, down to earth yet sophis- ticated, elegant and glamour, to enc- hant Los Angeles and to carry on the red carpet the myth of Italian femininity, sexy and full of charm. But one of the first divas of our cinema to make it in Hollywood was Tuscan actress Elsa Martinelli. The set is that of western movie The Indian Fighter, directed by De Toth: it's Kirk Douglas himself to choose her, after having seen a picture of her on the pages of Life magazine. She is "charmante," and enchants with her bearing and posture: indeed, she started her career in the world of fashion as a mannequin, discovered by designer Roberto Capucci. Her appearance was certainly unusual for the beauty standards of the time: she was tall and lean when Italian women didn't look like that and, more important still, when looking like that wasn't trendy. Soon, she becomes a known face around the world, an icon of elegance and style. She is also loved by movie critics: she wins the Silver Bear for Best Actress in Berlin at the tender age of 21, for her work in Mario Monicelli's Donatella. Then she begins working with all the "great" of world cinema, from the already mentioned Monicelli to Orson Welles, from Roger Vadim to Dino Riso, Mauro Bolognini, Elio Petri (along with Marcello Mastroianni) and Alberto Lattuada. In Hollywood, she stars along John Wayne in Hatari! (1962), Anthony Perkins in The Trial (1962), Charlton Heston in The Pigeon that Took Rome (1962), Robert Mitchum in Rampage (1963), Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in International Hotel (1963). Around 70 movies from 1954 to 1999, the majority concentrated in the years of her youth, the 50s and 60s. In the 70s, Martinelli dedicated her time to television, appearing also on Italy's most prestigious stage, that of the Festival di Sanremo. It was that natural aura of class and sobriety to seduce, to make her famous and to stay beside her all along, on the international jet-set and, later, in her careers as a singer, journalist and tv personality. Just before her, cinema had been enchanted by Milanese Alida Valli. She, too, worked with the greatest on both sides of the ocean: Orson Welles, Luchino Visconti, Hitchcock, Mario Soldati, Dario Argento, Zurlini, Antonioni. Along with her, actors of the caliber of Gregory Peck, Alain Delon, Frank Sinatra. On the West Coast, producer Selznick wanted her at all costs, to Talented, beautiful and, above all, an Italian diva From the director make her an Italian Ingrid Bergman: yet the fascination with Hollywood lasted only two years. she preferred paying a fine to the studios and come back to Europe. Similar was the choice of another perfect beauty, Virna Lisi: she came back to Italy because, she would say, "I don't like playing the diva. I like real things, not living in a fake world." She terminated her exclusive seven-years-long contract with Paramount only three years into it, when Hollywood wanted to turn her into a new Marylin. And she could have become that big easily: her first Hollywood movie was How to Murder your Wife (1965), with Jack Lemmon, with the famous scene in which she, wonderful enchantress, pops out from a cake in a bikini. Yet, being a blonde, sexy bimbo didn't interest her. She even refused the role of Bond Girl in 007: From Russia with Love (1963), along with Sean Connery. Some time later she would admit, revealing her profound authenticity: "I think it may have been silly to refuse, but I just didn't want to do it. And I'm very instinctive, I decide impulsively." She had a different creed: "I have never been a diva. I am a woman like any other." And Italy's own Rita Hayworth, Silvana Mangano, also refused Hollywood. Intense and beautiful face of Bitter Rice, poster movie of Italian Neorealism, she turned her back on American cinema after not having been chosen at her first audition because, the director said, she had arrived "with big hair, loads of make up and provocatively dressed." Well, she was a diva, in the end. It's not a case, then, that she entered in competition with two other pinups of those years, her friend Gina Lollobrigida and her rival Sophia Loren. La Lollo, the "Bersagliera," was certainly a diva outside, but especially inside. She still is today, with her star, the number 2.628, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "America spoiled me, since the very first moment I went there for my first MGM movie, with Frank Sinatra. America treated me like a queen, I will never forget Hollywood's love." A style icon, after her first American movie,  John Houston's Beat the Devil (1954), and the Time cover in 1955, she starred in more than 60 movies along with the biggest names of international cinema. La Lollo, Italy's answer to Elizabeth Taylor, will blow 91 candles the next 4th of July: she, just like Sophia Loren, had that all-Italian charm, vital and unbridled, thanks to which their movies made the history of cinema. Sophia Loren herself, when arriving in Hollywood, is already an acclaimed star. Young, breathtakingly beautiful and feisty, she plays along actors such as Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant. She'll get two Oscars, five Golden Globes, one Golden Lion, one Coppa Volpi, a price in Cannes, a Golden Bear in Berlin, seven David di Donatello and three Nastri d'Argento. But Sophia is more than a diva. Just like Marylin Monroe and Anna Magnani, to whom the Academy gave the first Italian Oscar, besotted by an actress always incredible, always intensely protagonist, she became a symbol of Italian cinema, one of the few true Divine ones of the Silver Screen. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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