Anita Ekberg

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Anita Ekberg
Anita Ekberg 1956.jpg
Ekberg in 1956
PronunciationSwedish:  [a²niːta ²eːkbærj] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )
Born
Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg

(1931-09-29)29 September 1931
Malmö, Sweden
Died11 January 2015(2015-01-11) (aged 83)
NationalitySwedish
OccupationActress, model
Years active1953–2002
Spouse(s)
Anthony Steel
(m. 1956;div. 1959)

Rik Van Nutter
(m. 1963;div. 1975)

Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg [1] (Swedish pronunciation:  [a²niːta ²eːkbærj] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); 29 September 1931 11 January 2015) was a Swedish actress active in American and European films. She is best known for her role as Sylvia in the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita (1960). [2] Ekberg worked primarily in Italy, where she became a permanent resident in 1964. [3]

Swedes are a North Germanic ethnic group native to Sweden. They mostly inhabit Sweden and the other Nordic countries, in particular Finland, with a substantial diaspora in other countries, especially the United States. Swedes are an officially recognized minority in Finland and Estonia.

Federico Fellini Italian filmmaker

Federico Fellini, was an Italian film director and screenwriter. Known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness, he is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. His films have ranked, in polls such as Cahiers du cinéma and Sight & Sound, as some of the greatest films of all time. Sight & Sound lists his 1963 film as the 10th-greatest film of all time.

<i>La Dolce Vita</i> 1960 Italian comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini

La Dolce Vita is a 1960 Italian drama film directed and co-written by Federico Fellini. The film follows Marcello Rubini, a journalist writing for gossip magazines, over seven days and nights on his journey through the "sweet life" of Rome in a fruitless search for love and happiness. La Dolce Vita won the Palme d'Or at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for Best Costumes. The film was a massive box office hit in Europe with 13,617,148 admissions in Italy and 2,956,094 admissions in France.

Contents

Early life

Anita Ekberg was born on 29 September 1931, in Malmö, Skåne, the sixth of eight children [2] of Gustav Fredrik Ekberg by the former Alva Maria Larsson. In her teens, Anita worked as a fashion model. Ekberg entered the Miss Malmö competition in 1950 at her mother's urging. This led to the Miss Sweden contest which she won. She consequently went to the United States to compete for the 1951 Miss Universe title (an unofficial pageant at that time, the pageant became official in 1952), despite speaking very little English. [2]

Malmö Place in Scania, Sweden

Malmö is the largest city of the Swedish county of Skåne County, the third-largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg, and the sixth-largest city in Scandinavia, with a population of 316,588 inhabitants out of a municipal total of 338,230 in 2018. The Malmö Metropolitan Region is home to over 700,000 people, and the Øresund Region, which includes Malmö, is home to 4 million people.

Scania Place in Götaland, Sweden

Scania, also known as Skåne, is the southernmost province (landskap) of Sweden. Within Scania, there are 33 municipalities that are autonomous within the Scania Regional Council. Scania's largest city is Malmö, which is also the third largest in Sweden, as well as the fifth largest in Scandinavia.

Miss Sweden beauty contest

Miss Sweden, is the title of the Swedish beauty pageant, which ran from 1949 to 2003, by the female magazine VeckoRevyn and production company Strix in partnership with MTG. The competition qualified delegates to the global contest Miss World. As the competition stopped running, it was replaced by separate pageants with various franchises.

Career

Universal Studios

Although Ekberg did not win the Miss Universe pageant, as one of six finalists she did earn a starlet's contract with Universal Studios. [4]

The star system was the method of creating, promoting and exploiting stars in Hollywood films. Movie studios would select promising young actors and glamorise and create personas for them, often inventing new names and even new backgrounds. Examples of stars who went through the star system include Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, and Rock Hudson.

As a starlet at Universal, she received lessons in drama, elocution, dancing, horseback riding, and fencing. She appeared briefly in The Mississippi Gambler (1953), Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953) (playing a woman on Venus), Take Me to Town (1953), and The Golden Blade (1953).

<i>The Mississippi Gambler</i> (1953 film) 1953 film by Rudolph Maté

The Mississippi Gambler is a 1953 American Technicolor Western adventure film directed by Rudolph Maté. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Recording. This film was the third Universal Studios film to bear this title--though with a different plot each time, The Mississippi Gambler (1929), Mississippi Gambler (1943).

<i>Abbott and Costello Go to Mars</i> 1953 American science fiction comedy film directed by Charles Lamont

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars is a 1953 American science fiction comedy film from Universal-International, produced by Howard Christie, directed by Charles Lamont, that stars the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.

Take Me To Town is a 1953 Technicolor Western film directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Ann Sheridan and Sterling Hayden.

Ekberg skipped many of her drama lessons, restricting herself to riding horses in the Hollywood Hills. Ekberg later admitted she was spoiled by the studio system and played instead of pursuing bigger film roles. [4] Universal dropped her after six months. [5]

Hollywood Hills Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States

The Hollywood Hills is a hillside neighborhood of the same name in the central region of the city of Los Angeles, California.

Batjac and Paramount

Ekberg in War and Peace (1956) War and peace8.jpg
Ekberg in War and Peace (1956)

The combination of Ekberg's voluptuous physique and colorful private life (such as her well-publicized romances with Hollywood's leading men like Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, Yul Brynner, Rod Taylor, and Errol Flynn) [2] [6] appealed to the gossip magazines, like Confidential and she soon became a major 1950s pin-up, appearing in men's magazines like Playboy . [7] Additionally, Ekberg participated in publicity stunts. She once admitted that an incident in which her dress burst open in the lobby of London's Berkeley Hotel was prearranged with a photographer. [4]

Frank Sinatra American singer, actor, and producer

Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer, actor and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

Tyrone Power American film, stage and radio actor

Tyrone Edmund Power III was an American film, stage and radio actor. From the 1930s to the 1950s, Power appeared in dozens of films, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads. His better-known films include The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes, Witness for the Prosecution, The Black Rose, and Captain from Castile. Power's own favorite film among those that he starred in was Nightmare Alley.

Yul Brynner American actor

Yul Brynner was a Russian-American film and stage actor.

Ekberg toured Greenland with Bob Hope entertaining American servicemen. Hope spoke of her beauty and John Wayne signed her to a contract with his Batjac Productions at $75 a week. [5]

By the mid-1950s, after several modeling jobs, Ekberg finally broke into the film industry. She guest-starred in the short-lived TV series Casablanca (1955) and Private Secretary .

She had a small part in the film Blood Alley (1955) starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall, made for Wayne's Batjac Productions. It was her first real speaking role in a feature. [8] She appeared alongside the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy act in Artists and Models (1955), directed by Frank Tashlin for Paramount, playing "Anita".

Ekberg greatest opportunity was when Paramount cast her in War and Peace (1956) which was shot in Rome, alongside Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn, directed by King Vidor. For a time, she was even publicized as "Paramount's Marilyn Monroe". [9]

Ekberg in Hollywood or Bust (1956) Anita Ekberg-1956.jpg
Ekberg in Hollywood or Bust (1956)

Ekberg was third billed in a thriller for Batjac, Man in the Vault (1956). [10] It was distributed by RKO Pictures who gave Ekberg an excellent part in Back from Eternity (1956), directed by John Farrow. [11]

Ekberg signed a deal with Warwick Pictures, the company of producers Albert Broccoli and Irwin Allen, who made films in England. She did Zarak (1956) with Victor Mature.

Ekberg returned to Hollywood to make a second film with Martin and Lewis (and Tashlin), Hollywood or Bust (1956). Ekberg made a second film for Warwick with Mature, Interpol (1957). [11] In 1956 Hedda Hopper said her fee was $75,000 per picture. [5]

She was announced for Glare directed by Budd Boetticher, but it was not made. [12]

When John Wayne split up with his producing partner Robert Fellows, Fellows took over Ekberg's contract. [13]

Gerd Oswald

Ekberg returned to Hollywood to make Valerie (1957) with Sterling Hayden and her then-husband Anthony Steel for director Gerd Oswald. [11] [14]

She co-starred with Bob Hope and Fernandel in Paris Holiday (1958). It was also directed by Oswald as was Screaming Mimi (1958). She did a third for Warwick, The Man Inside (1958) with Jack Palance. A film was announced for her A Lot of Woman but it was not made. [15]

Italy and La Dolce Vita

Ekberg went to Italy to star in Sheba and the Gladiator (1959), playing Zenobia. [16]

She stayed in Rome to make La Dolce Vita (1960) for Frederico Fellini, performing as Sylvia Rank, the unattainable "dream woman" of the character played by Marcello Mastroianni. The film features a scene of her cavorting in Rome's Trevi Fountain alongside Mastroianni, which has been called "one of cinema's most iconic scenes". [2] [17]

The movie was an international sensation and Ekberg settled in Rome. [18] She had the lead in an Italian-French co production, Last Train to Shanghai (1960) (aka The Dam on the Yellow River), then was in Le tre eccetera del colonnello (1960), The Call Girl Business (1960) [11] , Behind Closed Doors (1961), and The Mongols (1961), which had an American director (Andre De Toth) and co star (Jack Palance).

She later said "things became a little bit boring for me after La Dolce Vita because every producer or director in Italy, England and America wanted me to recreate the same role - the movie star from America who comes over to Italy." [19]

Ekberg then appeared in Boccaccio '70 (1962), a film that also featured Sophia Loren and Romy Schneider. Soon thereafter, Ekberg was being considered by Broccoli to play the first Bond girl, Honey Ryder in Dr. No , but the role went to the then-unknown Ursula Andress. [11] However Broccoli then cast her in Call Me Bwana (1963) with Bob Hope. (Call Me Bwana featured in the second Bond film, From Russia with Love , during a sequence where Ali Kerim Bey assassinates the Russian agent Krilencu with a sniper rifle. Krilencu attempts to escape through a window, which is situated in Anita Ekberg's mouth, on the wall-sized poster: "She should have kept her mouth shut," Bond says. [20] )

Ekberg co-starred with Andress, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin in the western-comedy 4 for Texas (1963). She returned to Europe to make Love Factory (1964) and Who Wants to Sleep? (1965). She went to England for an Agatha Christie adaptation, The Alphabet Murders (1965), directed by Frank Tashlin who had made her two Martin and Lewis films.

Ekberg was in the Italian How I Learned to Love Women (1966) then had a small role in a Jerry Lewis comedy, Way... Way Out (1966). She was in Pardon, Are You For or Against? (1966), an Alberto Sordi comedy; The Cobra (1967), an Italian crime film with Dana Andrews; The Glass Sphinx (1967) with Robert Taylor; Woman Times Seven (1967), an anthology directed by Vittorio De Sica, in a segment with Michael Caine; and Crónica de un atraco (1968).

She had a cameo in If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969) and the lead in Fangs of the Living Dead (1969), Death Knocks Twice (1969), and A Candidate for a Killing (1969).

Later career

Fellini called Ekberg back for a cameo in The Clowns (1970). She had bigger parts in The Divorce (1970) with Vittorio Gassman; The Conjugal Debt (1970); Quella chiara notte d'ottobre (1970); The French Sex Murders] (1972), a giallo; and Deadly Trackers (1972).

She went to Asia to make a Hollywood film, Northeast of Seoul (1972). In 1972 she sued an Italian magazine for publishing naked photographs of her. [21]

Ekberg was also in Gold of the Amazon Women (1979), Killer Nun (1979), S.H.E: Security Hazards Expert (1980), Cicciabomba (1982), and The Seduction of Angela (1986). Fellini used her in Intervista (1987), appearing as herself in a reunion scene with Mastroianni. [11]

Later performances included Count Max (1991), Ambrogio (1992), Cattive ragazze (1992), Witness Run (1996), and Bámbola (1996), in a part turned down by Gina Lollobrigida. She had a good part in Le nain rouge (1998). [22] [23]

She was in the TV series Beauty Centre (2001).

Personal life

Both of Ekberg's marriages were to actors, but neither of them succeeded. She was married to Anthony Steel from 22 May 1956 until their divorce in 14 May 1959 and to Rik Van Nutter from 9 April 1963 until their divorce in 1975. [2] [6] In one interview, she said she wished she had a child, [24] but stated just the opposite on another occasion. [25]

Ekberg was often outspoken in interviews, e.g., naming famous people she reportedly "couldn't bear". She was also frequently quoted as saying that it was Fellini who owed his success to her, rather than vice versa: "They would like to keep up the story that Fellini made me famous, that Fellini discovered me," she said in a 1999 interview with The New York Times. [26]

Ekberg did not live in Sweden after the early 1950s, and rarely visited the country. However, she welcomed Swedish journalists into her home outside Rome and in 2005 appeared on the popular radio program Sommar , telling about her life. She stated in an interview that she would not move back to Sweden before her death but would be buried there. [24]

In 1963, she was sued by her publicist. [27] In 1977, she was robbed in August and in December. [28]

On 19 July, 2009, she was admitted to the San Giovanni Hospital in Rome after falling ill in her home in Genzano, according to a medical official in the hospital's neurosurgery department. Despite her condition not being serious, Ekberg was put under observation in the facility. [29]

In December 2011, it was reported that the 80-year-old Ekberg was "destitute" following three months in a Rimini hospital with a broken hip, during which time her home was robbed of jewelry and furniture, [2] and her villa was badly damaged by fire. [30] Ekberg applied for help from the Fellini Foundation, which also found itself in difficult financial straits. [31]

Death

Ekberg died on 11 January 2015, at the age of 83, at the clinic San Raffaele in Rocca di Papa, Roman Castles, from complications of enduring illnesses. [2] [32] [33] Ekberg's funeral service was held on 14 January 2015, at the Lutheran-Evangelical Christuskirche in Rome, after which her body was cremated and her remains were buried at the cemetery of Skanör Church in Sweden. [34]

Filmography

Film

YearTitleRoleNotesref
1953 The Mississippi Gambler Maid of Honor [35]
Abbott and Costello Go to Mars Venusian GuardAmerican science fiction comedy film directed by Charles Lamont. [36]
Take Me to Town Dancehall GirlUncredited
The Golden Blade HandmaidenAn adventure film directed by Nathan Juran.
Uncredited
1955 Blood Alley Wei Ling, Big Han's wifeAmerican seafaring Cold War adventure film set in China directed by William A. Wellman. [37]
Artists and Models Anita
[38]
1956 War and Peace Hélène Kuragin American-Italian war drama film directed by King Vidor.
Back from Eternity Rena drama film directed and produced by John Farrow. [39]
Man in the Vault Flo Randall Film noir directed by Andrew V. McLaglen. [40]
Zarak Salma
[41] [42]
Hollywood or Bust Herself
1957 Interpol Gina Broger
[43]
Valerie Valerie Horvat Western film directed by Gerd Oswald. [44] [45]
1958 Paris Holiday ZaraComedy film directed by Gerd Oswald [46] [47]
Screaming Mimi Virginia Wilson aka Yolanda Lange
  • Film noir directed by Gerd Oswald
  • Based on the novel by pulp novelist Fredric Brown.
  • Film never received an official video release in the U.S.
The Man Inside Trudie Hall British crime adventure film directed by John Gilling.
1959 Sheba and the Gladiator Zenobia
[48]
1960 La Dolce Vita Sylvia Italian comedy-drama film written and directed by Federico Fellini. [49]
The Dam on the Yellow River Miss Dorothy Simmons
  • Italian: Apocalisse sul fiume giallo
  • French: Le dernier train de Shanghai
  • Released in UK as Last Train to Shanghai.
  • Italian-French drama film written and directed by Renzo Merusi.
[50] [51] [ page needed ]
Le tre eccetera del colonnelloGeorgina
Anonima cocottes
1961 A porte chiuse Olga Duvovich
  • Internationally released as Behind Closed Doors
  • Italian comedy film directed by Dino Risi.
[52] [53] [54] [55]
The Mongols HulinaDirected by André De Toth.
1962 Boccaccio '70 Herself
[56]
1963 Call Me Bwana Luba Farce film directed by Gordon Douglas. [57]
4 for Texas Elya Carlson
  • American western comedy directed by Robert Aldrich.
  • The film was announced in 1960 as Two for Texas.
[58]
Bianco, rosso, giallo, rosaAlberchiaria
1965 Who Wants to Sleep? Lolita Young
[59]
The Alphabet Murders Amanda
1966 How I Learned to Love Women Margaret Joyce
  • Italian: Come imparai ad amare le donne
  • French: Comment j'ai appris à aimer les femmes
  • German: Das gewisse Etwas der Frauen
  • Also known as Love Parade
  • Italian-French-German comedy film directed by Luciano Salce.
[50] [60]
Way...Way Out Anna SoblovaAmerican comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas.
Pardon, Are You For or Against? Baroness Olga
  • Italian: Scusi, lei è favorevole o contrario?
  • Italian comedy film written, directed and starred by Alberto Sordi.
[61] [62]
1967 The Cobra Lou
  • Italian: Il cobra
  • Spanish: El cobra
  • Also known as Cobra and Female Cobra
  • Italian-Spanish crime film directed by Mario Sequi.
[50] [51] [ page needed ]
The Glass Sphinx Paulette
[63]
Woman Times Seven Claudie
1968Crónica de un atracoBessie
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Performer
Malenka Malenka / Sylvia Morel
  • Also known as Fangs of the Living Dead.
  • Spanish-Italian horror film that was written and directed by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio, and his first horror film.
[64] [65]
Un sudario a la medidaJacqueline Monnard
Death Knocks Twice Sophia Perretti
[66]
1970 The Divorce Flavia
[67] [68]
Il debito coniugaleInes
Quella chiara notte d'ottobre
The Clowns HerselfFilm by Federico Fellini about the human fascination with clowns and circuses. [69]
1972 Casa d'appuntamento Madame Colette
  • Translation: The House of Rendezvous.
  • Also known as The French Sex Murders.
  • Giallo film directed by Ferdinando Merighi under the pseudonym "F. L. Morris".
La lunga cavalcata della vendettaJane
Northeast of Seoul KatherineFilm directed by David Lowell Rich. [70] [71]
1979 Killer Nun Sister Gertrude
  • Also known as Suor Omicidi or Deadly Habits
  • Italian nunsploitation film directed and co-written by Giulio Berruti and co-written by Alberto Tarallo.
  • The film was originally banned in Britain as a 'video nasty' and released with cuts in 1993, but was finally released uncut on DVD in the UK during 2006, after changes in British censorship policy.
[72]
1980 S*H*E Dr. BieblingAmerican spy film directed by Robert Michael Lewis.
1982CicciabombaBaronessa Judith von Kemp
1986Dolce pelle di AngelaSignora Rocchi
1987 Intervista HerselfItalian film directed by Federico Fellini.
1991 Count Max MarikaFrench-Italian comedy film directed by Christian De Sica [73]
1992AmbrogioClarice
Dov'era Lei a quell'Ora?Anita Ekberg
Cattive ragazze Milli
1996 Bambola Mother GretaFrench-Spanish-Italian erotic melodrama film written and directed by Bigas Luna.
1998Le nain rougePaola Bendoni

Television

YearTitleRoleNotesref
1979 Gold of the Amazon Women Queen Na-Eela

See also

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Inline citations

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Bibliography