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28 April 1943 |
|Other names||Desanka Lončar
Desanka "Beba" Lončar (Serbian Cyrillic: Десанка „Беба“ Лончар, born 28 April 1943) is a Serbian-Italian film actress. She appeared in 52 films between 1960 and 1982. She was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Known for her film career during the 1960s and 1970s, she first became a star in native Yugoslavia before moving to Italy where she achieved considerable success.
Lončar got involved with performing at an early age through speaking bits in kids' programmes on TV Belgrade. She studied acting under tutelage of director Soja Jovanović who gave Lončar an uncredited bit part in 1960's Diližansa snova.
Beba Lončar's break came when she got cast alongside another pair of first-time film performers Boris Dvornik and Dušica Žegarac in France Štiglic's Deveti krug, a Holocaust story about a Jewish family from Ljubljana that would later go on to achieve notable critical success.
Before Deveti krug was even released, 16-year-old Lončar got her first lead role - the part of Sonja Ilić, beautiful young girl in the teenage comedy Ljubav i moda. Acting in the cheeky comedy alongside established stars of Yugoslav cinema Miodrag Petrović Čkalja and Mija Aleksić, she left an impression on the general audiences that paved the way for her movie career.
Early career in Yugoslavia
Following the tremendous commercial success of Ljubav i moda, Deveti krug came out. Released in late April 1960, the film would end up playing at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival during May in addition to winning the Golden Arena award at the 1960 Pula Film Festival in August as well as becoming Yugoslav official submission for the best foreign movie and actually getting nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 33rd Academy Awards held in April 1961. Although the lead role of Ruth Alkalaj went to another young and up-an-coming actress - Dušica Žegarac - Lončar's portrayal of Magda got very positive notices.
With only two films under her belt, Lončar's cinematic profile was raised beyond all expectations. She next got cast as a female lead in Aleksandar Petrović's directorial debut - romantic drama Dvoje - alongside Miha Baloh and Miloš Žutić. Playing the mysteriously flirtatious Belgrade girl Jovana Zrnić, she once again got plenty of positive reaction in the press. The movie got released in late July 1961, and although it didn't match the success of her previous one on the festival circuit, it got very good reviews for its innovative approach as a breath of fresh air in the Yugoslav cinema that up to that point mostly made genre films of very specific and rigid structure and narrative. The movie also marked the first time Lončar was officially billed with her nickname Beba rather than her given first name, a practice that would be continued for the remainder of her career.
Already a bona fide film star in Yugoslavia as well as a nationwide sex symbol, Lončar started getting parts in foreign productions that were shot in Yugoslavia. Franz Antel cast her in the supporting role of Afra in the Austrian movie ...und ewig knallen die Räuber, which was the first time she took part in a foreign film. Following a few more Yugoslav movies where she had notable roles such as Soja Jovanović's comedy Dr whose screenplay was based on Branislav Nušić's novel of the same name and Zdravko Randić's Zemljaci, Lončar took a supporting part in the British over-the-top adventure film The Long Ships directed by Jack Cardiff and starring Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Russ Tamblyn, and Rosanna Schiaffino that was entirely shot in Yugoslavia. Another such production was German-funded, English-language, western-musical In the Wild West directed by Sobey Martin with Lončar in the main female role opposite Austrian singer-actor Freddy Quinn. In between she also starred along with Milena Dravić (another young Belgrade actress whose career path resembled Lončar's) as well Ljubiša Samardžić, Boris Dvornik, and Miki Mićović in a romantic summer youth comedy Lito vilovito about local boys from the Dalmatian coastline seducing young tourist girls.
- Ljubav i moda (1960)
- The Ninth Circle (1960)
- And Love Has Vanished (1961)
- Le Corniaud (1965)
- Slalom (1965)
- Casanova 70 (1965)
- The Birds, the Bees and the Italians (1966)
- Hermann der Cherusker - Die Schlacht im Teutoburger Wald (1967)
- Some Girls Do (1969)
- Brancaleone at the Crusades (1970)
- Who Killed the Prosecutor and Why? (1972)
- Sunday Lovers (1980)
- Kuća ukletih (1982)
Beba Lončar was married to Croatian businessman and socialite Josip "Dikan" Radeljak. The two met in Split during the 1970s and had a son Leo in 1982. After giving birth for the first time at the age of 39, Lončar decided to end her film career. Towards the end of the 1980s the couple separated as Radeljak left Lončar for the younger actress Ena Begović. Following a bitter court battle, their divorce was finalized in 1994 with Radeljak getting the custody of their only son.
During summer 2000, Lončar started living with Serbian skier Stevan Marinković Knićanin whom she eventually married. In late 2000, she moved from Rome to her hometown Belgrade where she's been living ever since. Despite not acting for almost 30 years, Lončar is still very much in demand by the Serbian and former Yugoslav media. However, she leads a very quiet, low-key life and rarely makes media appearances. Her latest one was for the 50th anniversary of the release of Ljubav i moda during June 2010.