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How Italian Influences Affected America's Taste For Glamour
Continued from page 1
by Cookie Curci
The first of these Italian imports to make an impact on our post-war styles and trends was Gina Lollobrigida. Born Luigina Lollobrigida in Subiaco, Italy, Gina was the first international actress to bring the short saucy Italian haircut to American beauty salons. Its official name was "the artichoke cut," but anyone who wanted it just asked her beautician for the "Lollobrigida look." Lollobrigida had starred in a number of earthy Italian films before coming to America. But it wasn't until in 1957 when she starred in Trapeze, with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, that America took an undivided interest in her. Even the popular I Love Lucy Show got in on the Italian craze. In one of Lucy's most beloved episodes, Ricky and Lucy travel to Italy, where Lucy tries to get a part in an earthy Italian film but ends up stomping grapes. The public was enthralled with Italian imports; women's fads reflected these styles: short dark hair, hoop earrings, and low cut blouses. But more than styles, it was an attitude we were trying to adopt.
About this time, Sophia Loren came along and made her American film debut in The Pride and the Passion with the leader of the pack, Frank Sinatra. She was an instant success and she starred in a string of films with Hollywood's top leading men, including Houseboat with Cary Grant, It Started in Naples with Clark Gable, and The Black Orchid with Anthony Quinn.
But, like all things Italian, there was more to this glamour queen than met the eye. Despite her voluptuous measurements, which, at the time, inspired an all-time high in sales of padded and "push-up" bras, this import could act. Film Director Vittorio de Sica sensed this about her and took a big chance. He starred the sexy siren in an unglamorous roll in the film drama Two Women. His instincts proved correct and Sophia Loren was the first actress in a foreign film to receive the Academy Award.
Sophia Loren, who is still as beautiful and beguiling as she was in the 1950s, believes: "Beauty comes from deep within the soul and it shows in your eyes, it has nothing to do with looks".
After seeing Italian actress Anna Magnani in several Italian-made films, playwright Tennessee Williams wrote The Rose Tattoo especially with her in mind. This film made an impact on the public like no other. It cemented the image of earthy Italian women forever in our minds. For her exquisite performance in the film Magnani received the Academy Award and the New York Film Critic's award. She was nominated again for her roles in Wild Is the Wind (1957) and The Fugitive Kind with Marlon Brando. But she would be forever stereotyped as the raw, sensual Italian woman.
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