Saturday, December 1, 2018


"Anita Ekberg, you must understand, is an extraordinary product of nature."
- Sculptor Sepy Dobronyi

The voluptuous and most-assuredly beautiful Swedish star Anita Ekberg is known to the world as the famous actress who strolled through Rome's Trevi Fountain in Frederico Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA (1960). We monster film fans of course also know her for that, but even more for her dual role as Malenka/Sylvia Morel in Amando de Ossorio's FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka "Malenka", "Malenka, the Vampire's Niece", "Malenka la vampire", "Malenka: la nipote del vampiro", "Malenka: la sobrina del vampiro", "Bloody Girl", etcetera, etcetera).

Anita Ekberg takes an uninhibited stroll in LA DOLCE VITA.
Opinions of the 1969 Spanish/Italian production have ranged from "the 1969 picture that hammered the final nail into the cinematic coffin of the bomb-shelter-era bombshell Anita Ekberg" (Lidz, Franz (July 3, 2005). "Attack of the $1 DVD's"). to "one of the most original gothic examples of Spanish horror" (Aldana Reyes, Dr Xavier. "Spanish Gothic Horror". University of Stirling).

The vampire film included a trio of other international beauties, Diana Lorys (Spain), Rosanna Yanni (Argentina), and Adriana Ambesi (Italy), but for obvious reasons, it is Ekberg that steals the show as the buxom femme fatale. MALENKA's world premiere was in Italy on 23 July 1969, then released in Spain on 7 August. It did not immediately find a distributor for the US, and was finally released on 18 May 1973 by Europix International. During it's run the gimmick of "free psychiatric care" was offered to any patron "disturbed" by FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD, or either of the other two films, CURSE OF THE LIVING DEAD and REVENGE OF THE LIVING DEAD, that were shown as a "Living Dead" triple-bill. It has been most recently sold as a Special Edition Blu-ray DVD by Scream Factory.

Born Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg on 29 September 1931 in Malmö, Sweden, At the urging of her mother, Miss Ekberg began a career in modeling at the age of sixteen. It was not long before she won the title of Miss Sweden. She missed a chance at becoming Miss Universe, but instead won a starlet's contract with Universal. While that didn't pan out, she nevertheless stuck with it and became internationally famous as a film star.

Like many stars, Miss Ekberg was on fire during the height of her popularity, but age and roles in low quality films marked the twilight of her career. During her heyday, she was known to cavort with such luminaries as Frank Sinatra (jeez, who didn't he date?), Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Yul Brynner and Rod Taylor. She was married and divorced twice and had no children. She died, reportedly "destitute" after being robbed of her valuables while she was in the hospital with a hip injury. She died at age 83, on 11 January 2015 in Rocca di Papa, Italy.

In the early years of her career, Anita Ekberg was seen quite regularly as a pin-up girl in various men's magazines. She grew to have no shame in baring her body for the cameras. . . and there was plenty of body to bare.

She appeared in the Volume 15 1956 issue of FIGURE QUARTERLY (Jones Publishing Co.) in an article entitled, "The Nude of Anita Ekberg". FQ was a spiral-bound periodical that focused on the nude in art, particularly photography, sculpture and painting. Ironically, the article by Henry Durling does not show Ekberg undraped in any of the accompanying multiple photos, but instead showcases the bronze statue nude that was produced by Hungarian-born sculptor Sepy (spelled "Sepi" in the article) Dobronyi.

Sepy Dobronyi and his controversial creation (Getty Images).

Dobronyi's bio is summarized here by Wikipedia: Baron Joseph "Sepy" De Bicske Dobronyi (April 20, 1922 – May 29, 2010) Hungarian-born sculptor and royal crown jeweler, aristocrat, art collector, world traveler, movie maker, pilot, wine collector, sportsman, playboy, and bon vivant. Sepy, as he became known, was the artist and jeweler whose name had been familiar in international society and movie circles as well as the art crowd. Baron Sepy was world-renowned for his bronze and gold sculptures of famous celebrities such as the controversial 42"inch tall Golden Statue, of movie star Anita Ekberg who posed for him and gained recognition worldwide. "The Ekberg Bronze" [created in his studio in Havana], was featured in the August 1956 issue of Playboy magazine by Hugh Hefner, a friend of Sepy.

The controversy aspect that is mentioned was the fact that it depicted a nude Ekberg, who had previously avoided any photos or images of her in the buff. The article indicates that the suave and debonair Sepy "overcame Ekberg taboo on nude photos" with this work. He states that it took 3 months to convince Ekberg to pose for the work, and the fact that he spoke Swedish went a long way in winning her over. Guess it worked better than expected, because even Sepy dated Ekberg for a time.

Besides the article in this publication, writer Henry Durling penned several stories for men's adventure magazines in the 50s and 60s, such as MAN'S CONQUEST and ROGUE.

In a sudden, overwhelming wave of generosity, I have elected to share the entire issue of FIGURE QUARTERLY. Besides the piece on Ekberg, there are articles on the history of nude photography and a collection of photos and a how-to of photographing nudes in window light by note glamour photographer Peter Gowland. This stuff's too good to pass over, and I think you'll agree!

1 comment:

Robert Deis (aka "SubtropicBob") said...

Great post! Thanks for scanning that entire book. Back in 1958, Sepy Dobronyi took photos of my friend, actress and model Eva Lynd when she was a showgirl in Cuba, just before Fidel Castro took over.