Category: italian

Sophia Loren and her son Carlo Ponti Jr. photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt for LIFE magazine, 1969.

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Rudolph Valentino aboard the S.S. Leviathan, November 1924.

Valentino caused a frenzy when he returned from Europe with a beard. The following announcement was issued by the Associated Master Barbers: “Our members are pledged not to attend a showing of Rudolph Valentino’s photoplays as long as he remains bewhiskered.” There was fear that the ‘male population of America is very likely to be guided by Valentino to the extent of making whiskers fashionable again,” and that “such a fashion would not only work harmful injury to barbers, but would so utterly deface America, as to make Americans difficult to distinguish from Russians.” Because of the public outcry and pressure, Valentino shaved off his beard.

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Sophia Loren photographed with her 1955 SL300 Gullwing.

Sophia Loren on the set of Madame Sans-Gene (1961)  

Rudolph Valentino photographed by Edward Steichen for Vanity Fair on August 6, 1926. He died less than 3 weeks later from Peritonitis

at the age of 31 on August 23rd. The 2nd photo appeared in the October 1926 issue of Vanity Fair.

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Rudolph Valentino publicity photos for Beyond the Rocks (1922)

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Sophia Loren photographed by Angelo Frontoni, 1961.   

On this day in music history: August 18, 1958 – “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” by Domenico Modugno hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks. Written by Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, it is the biggest hit for the Italian born singer, songwriter and filmmaker. The idea for “Volare” comes from fellow songwriter Franco Migliacci, who is inspired by a pair of paintings by Russian-French impressionist artist Marc Chagall. The song describes an abstract dream of a man painting himself blue and flying through the air. Migliacci and Modugno write the song originally titled “Sogno in blu” (dream in blue) before changing it to “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” with volare being the Italian word meaning “to fly”, and the latter translating to “in the sky, painted blue. The song is entered in the Sanremo Music Festival in January of 1958, with it receiving its first public performance. "Volare” wins the contest, leading to it being Italy’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Though it only places third in the competition, the attention generated at Eurovision will convince Modugno to record it. Originally released on the Fonit Cetra label, the song is an instant smash, selling over a million copies in Italy alone. “Volare” is licensed to Decca Records in the US, and takes a similar trajectory. Entering the Hot 100 at #54 on August 4, 1958, it pole vaults to the top of the chart two weeks later, becoming only the second single to top the newly established chart. The only song in the Italian language to hit the top of the US charts, “Volare” is a sensation with American music fans. At the first Grammy Awards ceremony in May of 1959, “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” wins three Grammy Awards including Best Male Vocal Performance, and the first to win Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. A pop standard, “Volare” is covered many times, and is referenced numerous times in movies and television. Singer Sergio Franchi sings  the song in commercials for the Plymouth Volaré in the 70’s. Actor Kevin Kline sings a brief snippet of it in “A Fish Called Wanda”, and Vitamin C recording a cover for the “Lizzie McGuire Movie” soundtrack. “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Sophia Loren photographed by Wallace Seawell, 1959.

Gina Lollobrigida photographed by Leo Fuchs, 1960.