Iconic actress Claudia Cardinale celebrated her 85th birthday and her timeless beauty continues to captivate audiences.

For more than six decades, Cardinale graced the screen with his breathtaking presence, becoming one of the most prominent actors of the golden age. Although she did not initially plan to pursue a career in acting, her journey to stardom was marked by some traumatic moments.

Having outlived many of the Hollywood legends she has shared the screen with, Cardinale remains active at 85 and firmly believes that “cinema saved my life.”

As an emblematic actress, Claudia Cardinale left an indelible mark on Italian and international cinema. Her talent, beauty, and versatility have allowed her to play a wide range of complex and memorable characters throughout her career.

Cardinale’s status as an international film star is the result of her talent, her distinctive Mediterranean beauty and her ability to captivate audiences with her charismatic screen presence.

What’s even more impressive is that at 85 years old, she is still actively engaged in the film industry. The Tunisian-born Italian actress, who grew up in a multilingual family, was studying to become a teacher when she was discovered at 18.

Her path to fame began when she was crowned the most beautiful Italian girl in Tunisia at an Italian film festival, which earned her a trip to the Venice film festival and numerous offers from producers.

Despite these offers, she initially refused because she was pregnant. Her decision was driven by a belief that resisting immediate acceptance would make her more desirable.

A producer, Franco Cristaldi, sparked his interest and signed him to an 18-year contract, including professional and personal conditions. Cardinale eventually married him and he tightly controlled her career, dictating everything from her film roles to her hairstyle and social life.

When she became pregnant, Cristaldi insisted that the pregnancy remain a secret and her son was publicly introduced as her younger brother. Cardinale continued acting in films while pregnant, which led to depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite her calls to terminate the contract, Cristaldi sent her to London, away from the press, falsely claiming that she was there to learn English for a role.

In 1975, her son, Patrick, was born and she revealed that his father was an unidentified man who had raped her. Patrick’s true identity remained a secret until he was 19.

Cardinale survived a difficult relationship with Cristaldi, from whom she separated in 1975, but her career flourished. She made her debut in the Franco-Tunisian film “Goha” alongside Omar Sharif. Her talent quickly earned her recognition as one of the best Italian actresses.

Notable roles in films like “Rocco and His Brothers” (1960), “8½” (1963) and “The Leopard” (1963) alongside Marcello Mastroianni and Burt Lancaster contributed to his fame. Director Martin Scorsese praises the latter two films, in which she portrays an unattainable object of desire, as two of his 12 favorites.

Cardinale also gained traction in Hollywood, starring in “The Pink Panther” alongside David Niven and appearing with John Wayne and Rita Hayworth in “Circus World” (1964). Her portrayal of a prostitute in “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) earned her praise.

Cardinale’s on-screen collaboration with Brigitte Bardot in “The Legend of the Frenchie King” (1971) delighted audiences. What set her apart from Bardot was her choice to never appear nude in films, as she believed it was more seductive to leave something to the imagination.

His time in Hollywood was marked by success and stress. Cardinale expressed her desire to leave the patriarchal Hollywood system and accepted lower salaries in Europe, emphasizing that she did not want to become a cliché.

Although her career has slowed, she has adopted a quieter life, away from the sexualized spotlight. She said her dreams included exploring the world and she made them come true. She never appeared nude in films and never altered her natural beauty. Cardinale enjoyed being herself because she believed that time could not be stopped.

She married Italian director Pasquale Squitieri in 1975 and they remained together until his death in 2017. The couple had one daughter, Claudia.

In 2022, Cardinale addressed rumors of forced hospitalization, confirming that she was in good health, living in France and enjoying her time with family.

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