Photo in 1965
|Born||Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg
29 September 1931
|Spouse(s)||Anthony Steel (m. 1956–59)
Rik Van Nutter (m. 1963–75)
Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg (born 29 September 1931) is a Swedish actress, model, and cult sex symbol. She is best known for her role as Sylvia in the 1960 Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita, which features the legendary scene of her cavorting in Trevi Fountain alongside Marcello Mastroianni.
Ekberg was born on 29 September 1931, in Malmö, Skåne, the eldest girl and the sixth of eight children. In her teens, she worked as a fashion model. In 1950, Ekberg entered the Miss Malmö competition at her mother's urging leading to the Miss Sweden contest which she won. She consequently went to the United States to compete for the Miss Universe title despite not speaking English.
Though she did not win Miss Universe, as one of six finalists she did earn a starlet's contract with Universal Studios, as was the rule at the time. In America, Ekberg met Howard Hughes, who at the time was producing films and wanted her to change her nose, teeth and name (Hughes said "Ekberg" was too difficult to pronounce). She refused to change her name, saying that if she became famous people would learn to pronounce it, and if she did not become famous it would not matter.
As a starlet at Universal, Ekberg received lessons in drama, elocution, dancing, horseriding and fencing. She appeared briefly in the 1953 Universal films, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars and The Golden Blade. Ekberg skipped many of her drama lessons, restricting herself to horseriding in the Hollywood Hills. Ekberg later admitted she was spoiled by the studio system and played instead of pursuing bigger film roles.
The combination of a colourful private life and physique gave her appeal to gossip magazines such as Confidential and to the new type of men's magazine that proliferated in the 1950s. She soon became a major 1950s pin-up. In addition, Ekberg participated in publicity stunts. Famously, she admitted that an incident where her dress burst open in the lobby of London's Berkeley Hotel was pre-arranged with a photographer.
By the mid-1950s, after several modelling jobs, Ekberg finally broke into the film industry. She guest starred on Casablanca and Private Secretary. She had a small part in Blood Alley (1955) starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall. She appeared alongside the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy act in Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956) both for Paramount Pictures. For a while she was publicized as "Paramount's Marilyn Monroe."
Paramount cast her in War and Peace, which was shot in Rome in 1956 alongside Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn before RKO gave the actress her first leading role in Back from Eternity. Ekberg would go on to appear in Man in the Vault and Zarak both in 1956. The productions were minor and left a small impact on her career. In 1957, she starred in the British drama Interpol with Victor Mature and Valerie also in 1957 with Sterling Hayden.
In 1958, she appeared in two high-profile films, where she co-starred with Bob Hope in Paris Holiday and starred with Philip Carey and Gypsy Rose Lee in Screaming Mimi. After starring in the European releases Sheba and the Gladiator in 1959, Ekberg's career began to decline.
In 1960, Federico Fellini gave Ekberg her greatest role in La Dolce Vita, in which she played the unattainable "dream woman" opposite Marcello Mastroianni. The film has been released in the languages of English, French, German, and Italian. After this, she accepted a fairly good role in The Dam of the Yellow River in 1960.
She then appeared in Boccaccio '70 (1962), a film that also featured Sophia Loren and Romy Schneider. Soon thereafter, Ekberg was being considered to play the first Bond girl, Honey Ryder in Dr. No, but the role went to an unknown Ursula Andress. In 1963, Ekberg would go on to co-star with Andress, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin in the western-comedy 4 for Texas. Fellini would call her back for two more films: I clowns (1972), and Intervista (1987), where she played herself in a reunion scene with Mastroianni.
Ekberg was married to the British actor Anthony Steel from 1956 to 1959 and married to Rik Van Nutter, also an actor, from 1963 to 1975. In an interview, she said she wished she had a child, however stating the opposite on another occasion.
Ekberg has not lived in Sweden since the early 1950s and rarely visits the country. However, she has welcomed Swedish journalists into her house outside Rome and in 2005 appeared in the popular radio program Sommar, where she talked about her life. She stated in an interview that she would not move back to Sweden before she dies where she will be buried. Ekberg said the Swedish people and media have not appreciated her sufficiently. Nevertheless, her personal and radio appearances have been popular in Sweden.
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 its neurosurgery department. She had been living in Italy for many years. Despite her condition not being serious Ekberg was put under observation in the facility.
In December 2011, it was reported that the 80-year-old Ekberg was "destitute" following three months in a hospital with a broken thigh in Rimini, during which her home was robbed and badly damaged in a fire. Ekberg applied for help from the Fellini Foundation, itself in difficult financial straits.
- Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953)
- The Golden Blade (1953)
- Blood Alley (1955)
- Artists and Models (1955)
- War and Peace (1956)
- Back from Eternity (1956)
- Hollywood or Bust (1956)
- Man in the Vault (1956)
- Zarak (1956)
- Interpol (1957)
- Valerie (1957)
- Paris Holiday (1958)
- The Man Inside (1958)
- Screaming Mimi (1958)
- Sheba and the Gladiator (1959)
- La Dolce Vita (1960)
- The Dam of the Yellow River (1960)
- Boccaccio '70 (1962)
- Call Me Bwana (1963)
- 4 for Texas (1963)
- The Alphabet Murders (1965)
- Way...Way Out (1966)
- Fangs of the Living Dead (1969)
- I clowns (1970) as herself
- Killer Nun (also known as Suor Omicidi or Deadly Habits) (1978)
- Intervista (1987) as herself
- Sullivan (1995).
- "La dolce Anita turns 75 Aftonbladet 5 October 2006 (Swedish)
- Anita Ekberg, Studentafton, Lund 22 March 2007
- "Anita Ekberg in Rome hospital
- "Dolce Vita diva Ekberg appeals for help". Zee News (India), 23 December 2011.
- "Film icon falls on hard times." The New Zealand Herald, 24 December 2011.
- McDonough, Jimmy (2005). Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-07250-1.
- Mancini, Henry (2002). Did They Mention the Music?: The Autobiography of Henry Mancini. Copper Square Press. ISBN 978-0-8154-1175-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anita Ekberg.|
- Anita Ekberg at the Internet Movie Database
- Anita Ekberg at the TCM Movie Database
- Anita Ekberg at AllRovi