When Gina Lollobrigida left her native Italy for Toronto in 1960, LIFE Magazine called her “the most fetching argument ever advanced for liberal immigration policies.” Intended as a compliment then but reading much more like objectification today, the statement certainly captured the mania that surrounded the actress at the height of her career—or at least, the first of her several careers.
Affectionately nicknamed La Lollo and Gina Bambina by her fans, Lollobrigida emerged as a star at around the same time as Sophia Loren, despite being eight years her senior. After placing third in the Miss Italia pageant in 1947, she began acting in Italian films, and then opposite some of America’s biggest leading men: Errol Flynn, Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra.
Lollobrigida and Loren shared good looks, sometimes-scarlet coiffures and successful international acting careers, leading to intense speculation about a rivalry. Though Lollobrigida later chalked it up to rumors fanned…
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