Tue, Jan 13, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Fellini screen siren Anita Ekberg passes away at 83

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Anita Ekberg, who became an international symbol of lush beauty and unbridled sensuality in the 1960 Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita, died on Sunday in Rocca di Papa, southeast of Rome. She was 83.

The cause was complications of a long illness, said her lawyer, Patrizia Ubaldi.

Ekberg had kept a low public profile in recent years. In December 2011, it was reported that she was almost penniless, had no family to help her and was seeking financial assistance from the Fellini Foundation while living at a nursing home in Italy, her adopted country.

Fellini cast Ekberg in La Dolce Vita as a hedonistic US actress visiting Rome. A single moonlit scene in which she wades into the Trevi Fountain in a strapless evening gown, turns her face ecstatically to the fountain’s waterfall and seductively calls Marcello Mastroianni’s character to join her, established her place in cinema history.

Ekberg won a Golden Globe, sharing the 1956 award for most promising newcomer with Dana Wynter and Victoria Shaw, but most of her roles focused on her face and figure.

When she traveled overseas to entertain US troops in the 1950s, Bob Hope introduced her as “the greatest thing to come from Sweden since smorgasbord” and joked that her parents had won the Nobel Prize for architecture.

Decades later, she told Entertainment Weekly: “When you’re born beautiful, it helps you start in the business, but then it becomes a handicap.”

Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg was born Sept. 29, 1931, in Malmo, Sweden, one of eight children of a harbor master.

She did some modeling as a teenager and was later named Miss Sweden, traveling to the US as a special guest at the Miss America pageant. She did not take home the Miss Universe title, but did win a US modeling contract and was soon acting as well.

Over a five-decade acting career, she made more than 50 feature films. Her last screen appearance was on a 2002 episode of the Italian TV series Il Bello Delle Donne.

Ekberg married and divorced twice. Her husbands were British matinee idol Anthony Steel (1956 to 1959) and Rik Van Nutter, a US actor who also appeared in films under the name Clyde Rogers (1963 to 1975). Steel died in 2001, Van Nutter in 2005. She had no children.

In an interview for her 80th birthday with Italian newspaper Corriere Delle Sera, she was asked if she was lonely.

She replied: yes, a bit, “but I have no regrets. I have loved, cried, been mad with happiness. I have won and I have lost.”

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