Silvana Pampanini

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Silvana Pampanini
Silvana Pampanini Allegro squadrone.png
Silvana Pampanini in The Cheerful Squadron, in 1954.
Born (1925-09-25)25 September 1925
Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Died 6 January 2016(2016-01-06) (aged 90)
Rome, Italy
Occupation Film actress

Silvana Pampanini (25 September 1925 – 6 January 2016) was an Italian film actress, director and singer. She caused sensation when she took part in the 1946 Miss Italy contest and the following year she started her movie career. Her original plans to be an opera singer never materialized.

Beauty pageant[edit]

Pampanini was wrongly reported as Miss Rome of 1947.[1] A caption in a 1952 newspaper said, "She is considered Italy's all-time beauty."[2] In post-war Italy most young film actresses were selected from beauty pageants. Because of her physical looks and public persona Silvana was considered the Italian Jane Russell.


Green-eyed and long-legged Silvana quickly became one of the most popular pin-up girls and movie stars in her country. She was considered a sex symbol throughout the 1950s. At the start of their career both Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren briefly appeared as extras in some films Pampanini starred in. The curvaceous brunette was usually dubbed when acting but used her voice when singing. Notably, she could speak French and Spanish, sing, dance, play the piano and she also recorded several songs. Some of her films were also screened in the English speaking countries, usually with subtitles.

In a 1952 world-wide publicized press statement she complained that middle-aged Hollywood actors like Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart were too old to play romantic lovers. Then in 1955 she visited New York City, Denver and California, appeared on television but rejected film offers because she was told she would have to study English for a long time and she did not like the American working schedule. Playing the real-life part of a glamorous and smiling ambassadress of the Italian cinema she travelled all over the world including West Germany, Belgium, Scandinavia, URSS, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Israel, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Japan, and South Africa, often appearing on local TV shows and participating in film festivals as a special guest or panel member. Wherever Silvana went she was personally welcomed by royalty, heads of states and prime ministers.

In her heyday the Italian actress was popular in France, where they nicknamed her Ninì Pampan, Spain, where she was cast in Tirma, Latin America, especially in Mexico, where she starred in three movies including Sed de Amor with Pedro Armendáriz. Dynamic and sometimes temperamental signorina Pampanini was often involved in arguments and controversies with film producers which eventually jeopardized her career. Nevertheless she successfully worked with distinguished actors and directors such as Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Alberto Sordi, Totò, Jean Gabin, Henri Vidal, Abel Gance, Vittorio De Sica, Buster Keaton. The film O.K. Nero, in which Pampanini played the role of scantily dressed Empress Poppaea, was banned in certain places because of scenes that were considered indecent.[3]


In 1954, Pampanini was sent a letter threatening that her home would be blown up if she did not leave a payment of 8 million lira in her car.[4]

Soon afterward, she went to Spain for three months to make a movie while police and agents of Lloyd's of London investigated the threat. A newspaper article reported that Pampanini's "bosom [was] insured with Lloyd's for $48,000."[5]

Personal life[edit]

Although she had countless admirers and passionate suitors, mainly in Italy and Latin America, she never married and did not have any children. In 1959 she had a brief love affair with American TV personality George DeWitt. In her autobiography Outrageously Respectable, published in her country in 1996, she wholeheartedly compared herself to Ava Gardner because of their similar physical appearance, and to Greta Garbo because they both received no eminent awards for their acting careers. In late October 2015, a few weeks after turning 90, Silvana was hospitalized and never recovered. Oddly enough, in Italy the day she passed away is a national festivity celebrating an old ugly witch who takes presents to children and then is burnt with a bonfire. Pampanini's luxurious personal belongings - furniture, paintings, jewels, silverware, books signed by the authors, expensive clothes, evening dresses, fur coats, and autographed photos - were sold at an auction in Rome two months after her death.



Film director[edit]


  1. ^ "Detonator (photo caption)". Indiana, Culver. The Culver Citizen. 7 September 1949. p. 7. Retrieved 21 January 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ "'Wow!' Girl". Indiana, Greenfield. Greenfield Daily Reporter. 15 January 1952. p. 5. Retrieved 21 January 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ "Film to Get Test Showing". Illinois, Decatur. The Decatur Herald. 22 June 1953. p. 11. Retrieved 21 January 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ "Police Guarding Italian Actress". Texas, Corpus Christi. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. 12 May 1954. p. 4. Retrieved 21 January 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ "Star Goes to Spain". Michigan, Holland. The Holland Evening Sentinel. 15 May 1954. p. 7. Retrieved 21 January 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read

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