Gina Lollobrigida, on 90th Birthday, Reignites Feud With Sophia Loren

Gina Lollobrigida TCM Classic Film Festival H 2016
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Turner

"I was the number one!" says the iconic Italian actress, who is getting a birthday party from the city of Rome on July 4.

Gina Lollobrigida turns 90 on Tuesday and the city of Rome is celebrating the actress, rolling out the red carpet and unveiling a new sculpture to celebrate her career with a special ceremony on Via Condotti.

If a new interview with Lollobrigida is any guide, the Italian actress, sculptor, photojournalist, singer and sex symbol has lost none of her biting wit — and still knows how to hold a grudge.

Asked about her infamous rivalry with Sophia Loren, Lollobrigida ranked their long-running spat among the greatest of Italian feuds from other spheres, together with "Coppi-Barali" (professional cycling) and "Callas-Tebaldi" (opera).

"I was not looking for any rivalry against anyone: I was the No. 1," Lollobrigida told Corriere della Sera.

"I succeeded only thanks to myself, without any producer supporting me. I did everything alone," said Lollobrigida, taking aim at producer, and Loren's husband, Carlo Ponti's investment in Loren to launch her into international stardom. 

Loren and Lollobrigida have often been described as career rivals. Loren, egged on by the European press, once claimed that she was "bustier" than Lollobrigida, who hit back saying Loren could play a peasant, but never a lady. Lollobrigida, however, has claimed in the past that the feud was bogus, a fabrication of Loren’s press department, and that only Loren herself has been keeping it alive for the past 50 years.

Described in her prime as the most beautiful woman in the world, Lollobrigida is set to receive a long-overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.

In the new interview, the actress also spoke of meeting Fidel Castro as a photojournalist, admiring him as a man, if not as a political leader.

Lollobrigida described turning 90 as simply, “30 plus 30 plus 30. ... Getting older for a woman is a handicap, but the tough experiences I have had have given me the courage to face the difficulties.” 

Lollobrigida famously turned down an offer from Howard Hughes to work in Hollywood. Her top Italian roles include Bread, Love and Dreams (1953), The Wayward Wife (1953) and Woman of Rome (1954). She starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in John Huston’s Beat the Devil (1953) and with Rock Hudson in Come September (1961).

The actress was nominated for two Golden Globes for the film Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1963) and for the series Falcon Crest (1981). Lollobrigida has won seven David di Donatello awards throughout her career. In 2013, she sold her jewelry collection, raising almost $5 million for stem cell research.