Anita Ekberg on Her Jaguar in Late 1950s
Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg (born 29 September 1931 in Malmö, Skåne) is a Swedish model, actress and cult sex symbol. She is best known for her role as Sylvia in the 1960 Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita, which features the legendary scene of her cavorting in Trevi Fountain alongside Marcello Mastroianni.
Ekberg was born in 1931, the eldest girl and the sixth of eight children. In her teens, she worked as a fashion model. In 1950, Ekberg entered the Miss Malmö competition at her mother’s urging leading to the Miss Sweden contest which she won. She consequently went to the United States to compete for the Miss Universe title despite not speaking English.
Although she did not win Miss Universe, as one of six finalists she did earn a starlet’s contract with Universal Studios, as was the rule at the time. In America, Ekberg met Howard Hughes, who at the time was producing films and wanted her to change her nose, teeth and name (Hughes said “Ekberg” was too difficult to pronounce). She refused to change her name, saying that if she became famous people would learn to pronounce it, and if she did not become famous it would not matter.
As a starlet at Universal, Ekberg received lessons in drama, elocution, dancing, horseriding and fencing. Ekberg skipped many of the lessons, restricting herself to horseriding in the Hollywood Hills. Ekberg later admitted that she was spoiled by the studio system and that she played instead of pursuing bigger film roles.