Claudia Cardinale (born 15 April 1938) is an Italian Tunisian actress. She had starring roles in Cartouche in 1962, 8½ (1963), The Professionals (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and The Pink Panther (1963); the majority of Cardinale's films have been either Italian or French.
Early lifeClaudia Cardinale was born Claude Joséphine Rose Cardinale in La Goulette, an Italian Tunisian neighborhood of Tunis. Her mother, Yolande Greco, was born in Tunisia to Sicilian emigrants from Trapani. Her father was an Italian railway worker, born in Gela. Her native languages were Tunisian Arabic and French. She had to learn Italian once she pursued her career. She did not speak Italian well (only the Sicilian language learned from her parents, like many Italian Tunisians) until the age of sixteen.
CareerIn 1957, Cardinale won the 'Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia' contest of the Italian embassy, which brought her to the traditional Venice Film Festival. Her feature film debut was Goha (1957), a French-Tunisian co-production. After attending the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia of Rome for two months, she signed a 7-year contract with the Vides studios. In 1958, she had a role in the major international success I soliti ignoti. Her early career was largely managed by producer Franco Cristaldi, a studio producer to whom Cardinale was married from 1966 until 1975.
Throughout the 1960s, she appeared in some of the most acclaimed Italian and European films of the period, including Luchino Visconti's Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1963) and Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers 1960), Philippe de Broca's Cartouche (1963), Federico Fellini's Otto e mezzo (8½ 1963), and Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). In her early Italian films, another actor dubbed for Cardinale, because her naturally deep voice (which later became one of the reasons of her success) contrasted with her feminine appearance. Not until 8½ was she allowed to dub her own dialogue.
Because Cardinale was not interested in leaving Europe for extended periods of time, she never made a real attempt to break into the American market. The list of her Hollywood films includes The Pink Panther (1963), Circus World (1964); Blindfold (1965); and The Professionals (1966).
A photograph of Cardinale was featured in the original gatefold artwork to Bob Dylan's album Blonde on Blonde (1966), but because it was used without Cardinale's permission, the photo was removed from the cover art in later pressings.
Her performance in Visconti's Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa (known as Sandra in the United States and Of A Thousand Delights, 1965) is regarded as mesmerizing, playing a Holocaust survivor who has an incestuous relationship with her brother. In Comencini's heart-breaking La storia (from Elsa Morante's novel), Cardinale plays a widow raising a son during World War II, and gave another well-received performance. Other memorable performances include Valerio Zurlini's Girl with a Suitcase and Mauro Bolognini's Libera.
Cardinale, now considered an icon of Europen cinema, remains active . Her later films include Qui comincia l'avventura (1975), Fitzcarraldo (1982), Un homme amoureux (1987), Mayrig (1991), and And now... Ladies and Gentlemen (2002).
Cardinale was honored as a tributee at the 2010 Telluride Film Festival and was the guest of honor at the 47th Antalya "Golden Orange" International Film Festival. She won the Golden Orange Best Actress Award for the movie of Signora Enrica (2010) from Antalya Film Festival in Turkey.
Personal lifeFranco Cristaldi from 1966 until their divorce in 1975, and now lives with Pasquale Squitieri, an Italian film director who has been her companion since 1975.
She has two children: Patrizio, who was born out of wedlock to a Frenchman when she was 17 and later adopted by her longtime companion Pasquale Squitieri, and Claudia, whose biological father is Squitieri.
Claudia Cardinale lives in Paris. She is also reported to have had an affair with former French President Jacques Chirac.
Cardinale is a liberal with strong political convictions. She is involved in many humanitarian causes, including pro-women and pro-gay issues, and has frequently stated her pride in her Tunisian and Arab roots - as evidenced by her book 'Ma Tunisie' and her appearance as herself in the Tunisian film Un été à La Goulette ("A Summer in La Goulette").
She wrote an autobiography, Moi Claudia, Toi Claudia. In 2005, she also published a French-language book, Mes Etoiles, about her personal and professional relationships with many of her directors and co-stars through her nearly 50 years in show-business.
Cardinale has been a regular attendee of the Academy Awards. In 2002, she was awarded an honorary Golden Bear award of the Berlin Film Festival, and previously in 1993 she was awarded even an honorary Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Cardinale has been a UNESCO good will ambassador for the Defense of Women's Rights since 1999. In 2006 (World Water Year) she symbolically extended such a 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.