Belfast Telegraph

La Dolce Vita actress Ekberg dies

Anita Ekberg, the actress immortalised bathing in the Trevi fountain in La Dolce Vita, has died at the age of 83.

She died in Rome this morning following a series of illnesses, the Swedish-born star's lawyer Patrizia Ubaldi confirmed. She had been admitted to hospital most recently after Christmas.

Mr Ubaldi said that in her last days Anita was saddened by the illness and her advancing age. "She had hoped to get better, something that didn't happen," she said.

The sex-symbol of the 1950s and '60s had long lived in Italy, the country that gave her worldwide fame thanks to the iconic dip opposite Marcello Mastroianni.

The scene where the blond bombshell, clad in a black dress with her arms wide open, calls out "Marcello" remains one of the most famous images in film history.

Her curvaceous body and glamorous social life made her a favorite of tabloid press in the 1950s and 1960s. She married twice but never had children, a fact she came to regret later in her life.

Some gossip magazines called her The Iceberg in a nod to her Scandinavian background.

Her role in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita - where she played a movie star - shot her to stardom. The movie was a colossal success and came to define the wild and carefree days of the early 1960s.

Hosting a Swedish radio program in 2005, Anita recalled shooting the scene in the Trevi Fountain in Rome. She said it was shot in February, the water in the fountain was cold and Mastroianni was falling over in the fountain drunk on vodka.

"And there I was. I was freezing," she said. "They had to lift me out of the water because I couldn't feel my legs anymore."

"I have seen that scene a few times. Maybe too many times. I can't stand watching it anymore, but it was beautiful at the time," she said.

Anita remained in Italy for years, appearing in scores of movies, many forgettable. She returned in two Fellini movies: Clowns and Intervista.

She married Briton Anthony Steel in 1956, but divorced him four years later. In 1963 she married again to actor Rik van Nutter, but that marriage also failed.

In an interview with Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet in 2006, Anita said her only regret in life was never having children.

"I would have liked to have a child, preferably a son," she was quoted as saying. "It didn't turn out that way. That's life, you just have to accept it."

In the interview, published in connection with her 75th birthday, she also said she was not afraid of death.

"I'm just angry because I won't get the chance to tell others about death, where the soul goes and if there is a life afterward," she was quoted as saying.

"I don't know if paradise or hell exist, but I'm sure hell is more groovy."

Mr Ubaldi said a ceremony would be held in the coming days at a Lutheran church in Rome, and that Anita had specified that her remains be cremated.

Born on September 29 1931 in the southern city of Malmo, Anita grew up with seven siblings.

In 1951 she won the Miss Sweden competition, after being recommended to enter by organisers who saw her on the street, and went to the United States to compete for the Miss Universe title.

She did not win but became a model in Hollywood and later started taking on small acting roles before fame beckoned.

But even as she became one of Sweden's most famous exports, Anita maintained a problematic relation with her native country. She never starred in a Swedish film and was often at odds with Swedish journalists, who criticized her for leaving the country and ridiculed her for adopting an American accent.

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