“Why does the time have to change? Why do we have to change so drastically, too? Time goes by to everybody.”
Anita Ekberg, most famous for her acting in the 1960 Italian film La Dolce Vita by Frederico Fellini is arguably one of the most underrated pinups of her time, living in the shadows of Marilyn Monroe’s fame, as did Jayne Mansfield. Anita and Jayne were actually friends. Anita described Marilyn Monroe as intelligent because “you need to be intelligent to know how to play dumb.” Anita was originally from Sweden, gaining attention and opportunity through winning the Miss Sweden competition, which brought her the opportunity to visit the United States to compete in the Miss Universe competition in 1951. Though she did not win Miss Universe, Anita won a film contract with Universal Studios Hollywood.
Universal Studios unfortunately dropped her after six months as she preferred to spend time horseback riding rather than pursuing large film roles. Her time in Hollywood was not without its challenges, though. She experienced harsh physical critique that was unfair as she was stunningly beautiful.
Anita famously described how Howard Huges suggested that she get plastic surgery to change her nose and also suggested that she change her name to be more like the ladies in Hollywood at the time and Anita refused, believing that either she will be famous for being herself or she will not be famous. During a time where pinups altered their natural looks (Jayne Mansfield dying her brunette locks to Marilyn style bottle blonde) and Rita Hayworth having significant changes done, from her name being changed (Margarita Cansino to Rita Hayworth) to dying her raven hair to red and having her hair line altered in a painful procedure.
In a time where beauty standards defined much of Hollywood’s starlets success, it was remarkable that Anita stayed so headstrong in being as natural as she could be. Both of Anita’s marriages were to actors and neither of those marriages lasted. She did not have a child and made a contradictory statements in interviews regarding if she would have wanted a child. Anita’s last years in Italy were unfortunate, in 2011, her home in Rome was robbed and badly burned in a fire while she was in the hospital for hip surgery. She ultimately applied for financial help from the Fellini Foundation and that foundation was not doing financially well, either. Anita was not well in her last years. Anita passed away on January 11, 2015 at the age of 83 from complications of prolonged illness. She is buried in Sweden.
The age in which Anita became a star was dominated by chauvinism and womanizing behaviors. Anita Ekberg manuevered Hollywood in her own way and became a legend in her own way.
“I have loved, cried, been mad with happiness. I have won and I have lost.”