Come to think of it, Anita Ekberg was born for the limelight and she lived fully giving credence to the given. She started out as a fashion model when she was a teen and then entered beauty pageantry where her naturally endowed body and beauty was well appreciated. Following her donning of the Miss Sweden crown in 1950 and subsequent contest in the 1951 Miss Universe in the USA, though she did not get to wear the crown, she struck a deal with stardom in Hollywood. From then, there was no looking back for the blonde bombshell.
Ekberg became a major 1950s pin-up and subsequently broke into the film industry, became a hot item on every producer’s plate, and landing role after role both in Italian, American and European films. She struck a deal with immortality in the industry with her 1960 role as the sensual Sylvia in the Italian film, La Dolce Vota. She achieved worldwide fame and would be talked about for several ages to come, even though she transited to the great beyond in 2015.
Anita Ekberg’s Bio
She was born in Malmö, Skåne, Sweden on the 29th of September, 1931. Her star sign is Libra and she was of Swedish nationality going by her birthplace but was more known as an Italian because she lived and worked there. She last visited Sweden in the 50s and became a permanent resident in Italy in 1964. Named Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg by her parents, Gustav Fredrik Ekberg and the former Alva Maria Larsson, she is the sixth of eight children.
Anita Ekberg was exceptionally beautiful and thus, fared well as a fashion model in her teenage. At her mother’s urging, she entered for the Miss Malmö contest in 1950 and then went ahead to win the Miss Sweden title. Consequently, she went to the United States as one of the contenders for the Miss Universe title in 1951, even though she could barely communicate in English.
She finished in the top six and earned a starlet’s contract with Universal Studios. As a starlet, she was trained in drama, elocution, dancing, horseback riding, and fencing. In 1953, she also had minor roles in several films including The Mississippi Gambler (1953), Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), Take Me to Town (1953), and The Golden Blade (1953). However, she was dropped by Universal after six months of training for preferring leisure to work – she skipped her drama lessons for horseriding.
Ekberg, now free from her Universal contract, banked on her voluptuous physique and colorful private life to grow her popularity in the entertainment arena. She had well-publicized flings with some of the leading men in Tinseltown including Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, Yul Brynner, Rod Taylor, and Errol Flynn. Moreover, her lifestyle made her a major 1950s pin-up, securing her a place in men’s magazines like Playboy and also several modeling jobs before finally breaking into the film industry. She was later signed by John Wayne‘s Batjac Productions.
She featured in such films as Casablanca (1955) and Blood Alley (1955). Ekberg was also cast in films produced by Paramount such as Artists and Models (1995) and War and Peace (1956) which was shot in Rome, alongside Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn after which she was publicized as “Paramount’s Marilyn Monroe.” She also shot films in England with Warwick Pictures.
After numerous works in Hollywood, Anita Ekberg found herself in Italy where she starred in Sheba and the Gladiator (1959) as Zenobia. This was followed by Frederico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 1960 where she played Sylvia Rank. A scene which featured her cavorting in Trevi Fountain was dubbed “one of cinema’s most iconic scenes.” The film achieved international success and Ekberg became the biggest thing in the industry at the time. She settled in Rome afterward and was the number one item on every producer’s plate. Ekberg was cast in lead roles in over 20 films for the next decade but noted that things became a little bit boring for her being that every moviemaker in Italy, America, and Europe want her to recreate her role in La Dolce Vita.
The roles became less frequent in the 70s but she made a career strengthening comeback with Intervista in 1987. Her last film credit is Le nain rogue (1998) and on television is Beauty Centre (2002). In 2002, after five decades in the showbiz arena, Anita Ekberg retired from acting. During her career, she received rave acclaims and critiques and was nominated for a number of awards including a Golden Globe Award. Ekberg was also recognized in pop culture: Bob Dylan mentioned her on his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in the song I Shall Be Free while the Canadian New Wave group Rough Trade mentioned her in the song, High School Confidential. She was also a celebrity spokesperson for Foster Grant sunglasses in the 1960s.
She was married twice, both times to actors. Anita Ekberg married Anthony Steel in May 1956 and was divorced him three years later. On April 9 1963, she exchanged vows with Rik Van Nutter but after 12 years, the couple had a divorce. She did not have any child from either marriage.
Ekberg’s earlier roles in films more often than not required her to look beautiful than act. in 1995, Empire magazine chose her as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history. The sex symbol was elegant at 5 feet 7 inches and weighed 130 lbs. Her body measured 40-24-36 inches. Beside her body figures, her beauty was further accentuated by her voluptuous figure, platinum blonde hair, cat-like blue eyes, and seductive deep voice.
Where Is She Now?
After she left Sweden in the early 50s, she did not return to live there again and rarely visited although she opened her doors to Swedish nationals like journalists. Talking about her decision to live outside her birth country, Ekberg reasoned that since her remains would be gathered to her people upon her death, there is no need moving back in her lifetime. Nevertheless, her personal and radio appearances have been popular in the country.
Seven years after her retirement, she fell sick in her home in Genzano and was admitted to the San Giovanni Hospital in Rome in July 2009. She wounded up for three months in a hospital in Rimini with a broken thigh during which her home was robbed of jewelry and furniture, and her villa, badly damaged by fire. Afterward, in December 2011, she was destitute and had to apply for help from the Fellini Foundation. Anita Ekberg died from complications of an enduring illness on January 11, 2015, aged 83 in Rocca di Papa, Italy.
A funeral was held for her at the Lutheran-Evangelical Christuskirche in Rome on January 14, 2015. Her body was then cremated and her ashes, buried at the cemetery of Skanor Church in Sweden.