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Anita Ekberg, Star of ‘La Dolce Vita,’ Dead at 83

Former Miss Sweden became a Hollywood sex symbol following her performance in Federico Fellini’s 1960 film

Anita Ekberg, a blonde bombshell who became an international sex symbol in the 1950s and ’60s, died in Italy Sunday at age 83.

The Swedish-born actress was best known for her role as a movie star in Federico Fellini’s classic 1960 film “La Dolce Vita,” which received the Golden Palm at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and elevated Ekberg to screen siren status.

She was featured in a scene in which “she wades into the Trevi Fountain in a strapless evening gown, turns her face ecstatically to the fountain’s waterfall and seductively calls Marcello Mastroianni’s character to join her – establishing her place in cinema history,” according to the New York Times.

Born on Sept. 29, 1931, Ekberg grew up with seven siblings. In 1951 she won the Miss Sweden competition, and later came to the United States to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. She didn’t win but launched a modeling career in Hollywood and later started taking on small acting roles until the “La Doce Vita” chance came along. She returned to Hollywood after that, but never found a breakout role and subsequently returned to Europe to make most of her movies.

Ekberg was romantically linked to a number of Hollywood’s leading men, including Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Yul Brynner and Errol Flynn. She was married twice, first to British movie star Anthony Steel and later to American actor Rik Van Nutter.

Ekberg had been ill for several years, since she broke a hip after being knocked over by one of her pet Great Danes, according to the BBC.