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Italy toasts Anna Magnani centenary

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 Italy celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of screen legend Anna Magnani on Friday with a host of initiatives in honour of the Rome-born actress.

Television schedules for the day were choc-a-bloc with films starring Magnani, who was born on March 7, 1908.

Among more permanent tributes, the economy ministry issued a special silver 5-euro coin bearing the actress’s profile on one side and on the other an image from Roberto Rossellini’s 1945 Italian war film, Rome, Open City, in which she starred.

Magnani, who died in 1973 and was affectionately known by her nickname ‘Nannarella’, was the first Italian to win an Oscar – the best actress award for her role in the 1955 film The Rose Tattoo.

”The issue of this special coin is in rightful recognition of Nannarella, an inimitable Roman personality and a key player in neorealism,” said Paolo Cento of the ministry’s technical and artistic committee.

”Her Oscar made her an icon of world cinema and a symbol of emancipation for women in Italy,” he added.

The Italian Postal Service joined in the celebrations by releasing a special 60-cent stamp in honour of the actress.

This year a cycle of exhibitions, talks and film screenings entitled ‘Ciao, Anna’ will visit the places that she loved, including Furore on the Amalfi coast and San Felice Circeo on the Lazio coast, where the actress is buried.

Magnani’s Oscar-winning role in The Rose Tattoo was written especially for her by American playwright Tennessee Williams, who after meeting her is reported to have said: ”I never saw a more beautiful woman, enormous eyes, skin the color of Devonshire cream”.

Magnani worked with most of Italy’s leading directors of the period including Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Luchino Visconti.

Outside Italy she lent her talents to such directors as Stanley Kramer, Sidney Lumet and Jean Renoir.

Magnani was also nominated for an Oscar for the 1957 film Wild is the Wind, by George Cukor, a role which won her a Silver Bear at the Berlin film Festival.

She was named best actress at the Venice Film Festival in 1947 for her performance in Luigi Zampa’s Onorevole Angelina.

Magnani has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Photo: Anna Magnani, photographed by Richard Avedon in New York, 1953.

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