Actress Claudia Cardinale Reflects on 60 Years in Film and Credits Cinema with Saving Her Life

Claudia Cardinale, the legendary actress, recently celebrated her 85th birthday, and her enduring beauty continues to enchant audiences.

Over a span of more than six decades, Cardinale graced the silver screen with her mesmerizing presence, establishing herself as one of the preeminent actors of the golden era. Although she didn’t initially plan a career in acting, her journey to stardom was marked by moments of hardship.

Outlasting many of the Hollywood legends with whom she once shared the screen, Cardinale remains active at the age of 85, firmly asserting that “cinema saved my life.”

As an iconic figure in the world of cinema, Claudia Cardinale has made an indelible impact on both Italian and international film. Her talent, beauty, and versatility allowed her to portray a diverse array of complex and unforgettable characters throughout her illustrious career.

Cardinale’s stature as an international film star is a testament to her talent, distinctive Mediterranean beauty, and the ability to captivate audiences with her charismatic on-screen presence. What’s even more remarkable is that, at the age of 85, she continues to actively participate in the movie industry. The Tunisian-born Italian actress, raised in a multilingual family, initially aspired to become a teacher before being discovered at the age of 18.

Her journey to fame commenced when she was crowned the Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia at an Italian film festival, leading to a visit to the Venice Film Festival and a multitude of offers from producers.

Despite these enticing offers, she initially declined due to pregnancy. Her decision was grounded in the belief that resisting immediate acceptance would enhance her desirability.

Claudia Cardinale’s journey in the entertainment industry was fraught with both triumphs and tribulations. One producer, Franco Cristaldi, played a pivotal role in her life, capturing her interest and signing her under an 18-year contract, which covered both professional and personal aspects. Cardinale eventually married Cristaldi, but the relationship proved tumultuous as he tightly controlled every facet of her life, from movie roles to her hairstyle and social interactions.

During her pregnancy, Cristaldi insisted on secrecy, introducing her son as her younger brother. This led to depression and suicidal thoughts as Cardinale continued to act in films. Despite her attempts to terminate the contract, Cristaldi sent her to London under the false pretense of learning English for a role.

In 1975, Cardinale separated from Cristaldi, revealing that her son Patrick was the result of a rape. His true identity remained undisclosed until he turned 19. Despite the difficult relationship, her career flourished, marked by notable roles in films like “Rocco and His Brothers” (1960), “8½” (1963), and “The Leopard” (1963).

Her Hollywood stint included successes such as “The Pink Panther” and “Circus World” (1964), and she earned acclaim for her role in “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968). Cardinale’s collaboration with Brigitte Bardot in “The Legend of Frenchie King” (1971) showcased her refusal to appear nude in films, emphasizing the allure of leaving something to the imagination.

Cardinale transitioned to a quieter life away from the sexualized spotlight, prioritizing her dreams of exploring the world. She married Italian director Pasquale Squitieri in 1975, remaining together until his passing in 2017, and they had one daughter, Claudia.

In 2022, addressing rumors of involuntary hospitalization, Cardinale confirmed her good health, residing in France, and enjoying time with family. She serves as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador for the Defense of Women’s Rights, actively contributing to important causes.

Claudia Cardinale’s life, marked by both trauma and success, stands as an inspiration for women. She continues to empower others with her experiences, remaining in good health and inspiring people for years to come. Do you have a favorite Claudia Cardinale film?