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Famed as a “grandiose creature, extraterrestrial and at the same time moving and irresistible” by Federico Fellini, Anita Ekberg was seen by both her contemporaries and the public alike as one of the most iconic sex symbols of her time.
Born 1931 in Sweden, Ekberg began her career as a model, winning the Miss Sweden contest and, at the age of 20, entering the Miss Universe contest in America. Though Ekberg didn’t win, she was subsequently hired as a starlet in Hollywood. It was 1960 when she finally made her name appearing in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.
Ekberg’s portrayal as the seductive Sylvia Rank in Fellini’s classic pushed her into the mainstream. Her name became synonymous with beauty: posing for Playboy, being referenced in Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Free, and becoming a tabloid sensation. Known for her love life as she was her acting, Ekberg was romantically linked to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, and marrying actors Anthony Steel and Rik Van Nutter.
In her later life, Ekberg shied away from the limelight and sadly died from complications of enduring illnesses in 2015, at the age of 83.