Claudia Cardinale (born April 15, 1938) is an Italian actress born in Tunis, Tunisia. The most notable films she has appeared in include (1963) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). Most Cardinale's flicks have been either of Italian or French origin; she has almost never worked outside the European cinema and she has become one of its iconic movie stars, among the most versatile.


Early lifeEdit

Claudia Cardinale was born Claude Joséphine Rose Cardinale. Her mother was Italian and her father was an Italian railway worker. In Tunisia, her native language was the French so it was difficult for her once she got to Italy; she did not speak Italian until the age of eighteen.[1]


In 1957, Claudia Cardinale won the contest of Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia of the Italian embassy, by which she was brought to the traditional Venice Film Festival. This meant her break in cinema.

Cardinale's feature film debut was Goha (France-Tunisia, 1957). After attending the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia of Rome for two months, she inked a 7 year contract with the Vides studios. In 1958 she had a role in the internationally successful I soliti ignoti.

Her early career was largely managed by producer Franco Cristaldi, a producer of the studios to whom Cardinale was married from 1966 until 1975.

Throughout the 1960s she appeared in some of the most important Italian and European films including Luchino Visconti's Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1963), Rocco e i suoi fratelli (1960), Philippe de Broca's Cartouche (1963), Federico Fellini's (1963) and Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

However, without proper fluency in language, for the early Italian films her voice was dubbed by someone else; not until was she allowed to dub her own dialogue.[2]

Cardinale never made a real attempt to break into the American market since she didn't want to leave Europe for extended periods of time and, besides, it was difficult for her to speak English. Nonetheless the list of her Hollywood films include The Pink Panther (1963), in which she was dubbed by an American actress, Circus World (1964), Blindfold (1965) and opposite Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster in The Professionals (1966).

A photograph of Cardinale was featured in the original gatefold artwork to Bob Dylan's album Blonde on Blonde in 1966; however, the picture had been used without Cardinale's authorization, so it was removed from the cover art in later pressings.[1][2]

Her performance in Visconti's "Sandra" (US) / Of A Thousand Delights (UK) (1965) is regarded as mesmerizing, as a Holocaust survivor having an incestuous relationship with her brother. In Comencini's La storia (from Elsa Morante's novel), Cardinale plays a widow raising a son during World War II, meaning another well received performance. Other memorable performances include Valerio Zurlini's Girl with a Suitcase and Mauro Bolognini's Libera.

Cardinale remains active in European cinema, her later films including Qui comincia l'avventura (1975), Fitzcarraldo (1982), Un homme amoureux (1987), Mayrig (1991), and And now... Ladies and Gentlemen (2002). In the 1980s she did a brief stint in the Falcon Crest CBS series.

Personal lifeEdit

Claudia Cardinale has denied ever having been married, although it is hypothesized that she did at least once (to Franco Cristaldi). Although Claudia Cardinale lives in Paris, since 1975 her partner has been the film director Pasquale Squitieri, who lives in Rome. Cardinale has two children, of whom the elder was born when she was seventeen. She is also reported to have had an affair with former French President Jacques Chirac.[3]

Claudia Cardinale is of strong liberal political convictions. She has been involved into many humanitarian causes, feminist and pro-gay causes, and has frequently stated her pride in her Tunisian and Arab roots - as evidenced by her appearance as herself in the Tunisian film Un été à La Goulette (A Summer in La Goulette).

Cardinale wrote an autobiography, Moi Claudia, Toi Claudia and a French-language book, Mes Etoiles (2005), about her personal and professional relationships with many of her directors and co-stars through her nearly 50 years in show-business.

Also, Cardinale has been a regular attendee of the Academy Awards. In 2002, she was awarded with an honorary Golden Bear award of the Berlin Film Festival.

Cardinale has been UNESCO good will ambassador for the Defense of Women's Rights since 1999; in 2006 (World Water Year) she symbolically extended such role for the Defense of the Rights of the Absolute Woman : Mother Earth while declaring her support for Powerstock, a sustainable electronic music festival that proposes a "water-consciousness" for youth culture and seeks to make sustainability an integral part of mainstream culture.



  1. Claudia Cardinale (I) - Biography
  2. 8½, Criterion Collection DVD, featured commentary track.
  3. AlloCiné Blogs - LES DÉESSES DU 7 ÈME ART

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