Early Years

Claudia Cardinale was born Claude Joséphine Rose Cardinale in La Goulette in French Tunisia on 15 April 1938 to Sicilian parents. Growing up she was trilingual in the following languages: French, Siculo, and Arabic.

Cardinale was educated at the Saint-Joseph-de-l’Apparition School of Carthage. She then studied at the Paul Cambon School, where she graduated with the desire to become a school teacher.

Modeling and Acting in the 1950s

In 1956, a Brigitte Bardot obsessed Cardinale appeared in a short feature, Anneaux d’or, by French director René Vautier, which turned her into a local celebrity in French Tunisia. The following year she won the “Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia” contest, which earned her a trip to the Venice Film Festival as 1st prize.

In Venice, several producers were interested in her to screen test for them in Rome. The results of these tests weren’t good as they felt she was incapable of giving a credible acting performance. Discouraged, she returned to Tunisia. In 1958 she appeared in Goha with Omar Shariff, which was her first appearance in a feature film.

Soon after, she discovered that she was pregnant. She decided to keep the child and she signed a seven-year exclusive contract with Italian producer Franco Cristaldi’s production company Vides.

Cardinale filmed 2 movies while secretly pregnant: Big Deal On Madonna Street and Three Strangers In Rome. She then traveled to England to give birth to her son, who would be raised by her parents as her brother.

As the decade came to a close she appeared in a few more movies, nothing vary notable. However, the next decade she would appear in some of the most acclaimed and famous movies of all time.