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Italian actress and renowned beauty Gina Lollobrigida dies at 95

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Gina Lollobrigida arrives on the red carpet during the 4th Rome International Film Festival in Rome on October 16, 2009. She died Monday at age 95. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI
Gina Lollobrigida arrives on the red carpet during the 4th Rome International Film Festival in Rome on October 16, 2009. She died Monday at age 95. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Italian screen legend Gina Lollobrigida, whose sultry roles in the 1950s and 1960s established her as a international sex symbol, has died, Italian media reported Monday. She was 95.

Known affectionately to her countrymen as "La Bersagliera" for her starring role in Luigi Comencini's 1953 film Bread, Love and Dreams, Lollobrigida's family broke the news of her death, the Italian agency ANSA reported.

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She was hospitalized with a fractured femur and underwent an operation in September following a fall at home, the news service said. The injury came as she was campaigning for an Italian Senate seat.

Four years ago she was similarly hospitalized after a domestic accident.

Lollobrigida was last seen in public on Nov. 21 during a tearful appearance on Italian television in which she talked about a long battle with her son and grandson over her decision to include her former butler into her will.

"I have the right to live but also to die in peace," she told the RAI Television interviewer.

Lollobrigida appeared in more than 60 movies in a career as a screen diva that took off in the 1950s. She quickly became one of the most recognizable figures of the Italian postwar neorealist cinema movement and was hailed as one of the world's great beauties.

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Her reputation in that regard was cemented in 1955 when she starred in the film La Donna Piu Bella del Mondo (The World's Most Beautiful Woman), which came shortly after her Hollywood breakout role in director John Huston's 1953 classic Beat the Devil.

Lollobrigida won a Golden Globe award for her performance opposite Rock Hudson in the 1961 romantic comedy Come September.

Long engaged in a rivalry with fellow Italian screen beauty Sophia Loren, Lollobrigida is credited with influencing the look of a generation of Italian women in the 1960s, especially her short hairstyle, and for decades was revered as an archetype of sultry Italian sex appeal.

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Longtime college basketball analyst Billy Packer (R) with Jim Nantz in 2005. Packer, who was the lead analyst for 34 consecutive Final Fours on NBC and CBS, died at the age of 82 on January 26. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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