ROME, Italy — Italian screen legend Gina Lollobrigida has called on victims of sexual abuse to report it immediately, saying she was assaulted twice but was too afraid to say anything.
The 1950s star, now 90, initially told an interview on a television show broadcast late Wednesday that unearthing old episodes of misconduct, from harassment to rape, felt a bit like “looking for publicity”.
But she then quietly revealed she herself had been the victim on two occasions of “fairly serious” assaults.
“You must have the courage” to speak out when it happens, she said, but “I lacked that courage, I kept quiet, I said nothing.”
The actress, once a famous Italian pin-up, is perhaps best known for her performance in the 1953 comedy “Bread, Love and Dreams” and the 1956 US movie “Trapeze”, in which she starred alongside Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.
She said she was assaulted by an Italian and a foreigner, but did not identify them by name.
“The first time, I was innocent, I did not know love, I knew nothing. So it was serious. And the person was very well known. I was 19 years old, I was still in school,” she said.
“The second time, I’d rather not talk about it,” she said, revealing just that it happened after her marriage in 1949 to Slovenian doctor Milko Skofic, with whom she had a son. The couple divorced 20 years later.
“Sexual abuse, when it’s serious, it stays with you and marks your character. It’s something you can’t cast off, it stays with you. Your actions are always subject to that terrible memory,” she said.
Accounts of abuse by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein that were published last month have sparked a cascade of allegations engulfing film, politics, finance and journalism.
Weinstein has denied the allegations.
In Italy, several actresses have leapt to the defence of director Giuseppe Tornatore, the man behind the 1988 classic “Cinema Paradiso”, who has been accused of assaulting a showgirl 20 years ago — a claim he has denied.