Like many other female Italian film stars, Claudia Cardinale's entry into the business was by way of a beauty pageant. She was 17 years old and studying at the Centro Sperimentale in Rome when she entered a beauty contest, which resulted in her getting a succession of small film roles. Her earthy interpretations of Sicilian women got her noticed by Italian producers, and the combination of her beauty, dark, flashing eyes, explosive sexuality and genuine acting talent virtually guaranteed her stardom. After Careless (1962) she rose to the front ranks of Italian cinema, and became an international star in Federico Fellini's classic 8½ (1963) with Marcello Mastroianni. American audiences may best remember her from her starring role in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
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