Anita Ekberg: 1931 - 2014
"Twenty-five years after the film, its title its image are still inseparable from Anita." -Federico Fellini, 1987
"It was I who made Fellini famous, not the other way around." -Anita Ekberg, 1999
Anita Ekberg, the fiery, outspoken muse and actress of Federico Fellini in his groundbreaking 1960 film, La Dolce Vita died Sunday, 11 January, 2015 at age 83. Known perhaps more for her physical attributes and highly charged sensuality than her acting abilities, she was "liberated" by Fellini when he chose her for the role of Sylvia in La Dolce Vita a role that, "only she could play."
Obituaries from around the globe are all over the internet today and worth checking out. I've decided to honor Anita by resending a Fellini News Update Special I wrote on in 2006 on the occasion of her 75th birthday. I've also attached a wonderful statement Fellini made about her from an interview with Giovanni Grazzini in 1987.
Bon voyage, Anitona.
Fellini News Update: Special Edition
29 September, 2006
Fellini Icon, Anita Ekberg is 75!
The ultimate female icon of the Fellini universe, Anita Ekberg, is 75 years young today. The Swedish bombshell was born on 29 September, 1931.
Anitona, as Fellini christened her, was crowned Miss Sweden in 1950. Also known derisively as the Iceberg and Titberg, Ekberg was proud of her Nordic heritage and her, 40 - 22 - 36 measurements that undoubtedly typecast her early on. (Comedian, Bob Hope, wryly observed that, her parents should be awarded the Nobel Prize for Architecture.)
Her real-life, impromptu swim in Rome's, Trevi Fountain, photos of which were splashed across the pages of Rome's newspapers, got Fellini's attention. He cast her in the role of Sylvia in La Dolce Vita, 1960, where she basically recreated the Trevi dip with co-star, Marcello Mastroiani.
(Question: In all those intimate scenes with Mastroianni and Ekberg, did their lips ever touch?)
For Fellini, Anita was a symbol of the ultimate woman, at least from a purely physical point of view. He drew countless sketches of her, emphasizing and exaggerating her legendary proportions.
Fellini cast her again in his satirical short film, The Temptations of Dr. Antonio, (1962) as a billboard giantess, come-to-life. She played herself in a minor role in The Clowns, (1970) and again, touchingly, in Intervista, (1987).
Although she has appeared in over 60 movies, few were memorable. She had somewhat of a knack for comedy, playing Bob Hope's foil in Call Me Bwana, (1963) Lewis and Martin's foil in, Artists and Models, (1955) and she played a Venusian goddess in Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, (1953). For my money though, her role opposite Tony Randall in the Agatha Christie penned, Alphabet Murders, (1965) was one of her best efforts at comedy.
One can easily guess which of her films will be remembered. As he often did, Fellini drew out of his actors their career-best performances. With her vivacious role in La Dolce Vita, Anitona was no exception.
The recent 3-disc release of La Dolce Vita, from Koch-Lorber Films, has a recent interview with Ms. Ekberg, who speaks very candidly about her life in film. I recommend it highly. (NOTE: Read about the 2014 Criterion release HERE.)
Best wishes to Anita on her 75th milestone!
In 1987, journalist and interviewer Giovanni Grazzini, asked Fellini what came to his mind when people asked about La Dolce Vita. Fellini gave the following reply:
"Anita Ekberg! Twenty-five years after the film, its title its image are still inseparable from Anita. I saw her in a full page photograph in an American magazine: a powerful panther playing the mischievous young girl, astride the bannister of a stairway. "My god" - I thought - "don't ever let me meet her!" That sense of the marvelous, of a hypnotic stupor, of the disbelief one feels confronting exceptional creatures like a giraffe, the elephant, the baobab tree I felt again several years later when I saw her coming toward me in the garden of the Hotel de la Ville... I seemed to be discovering the platonic reality of things, of elements and in a total stupor I murmured to myself: "Ah, these are the ear lobes, there are the gums, this is human skin."