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Breakout in the 1960s
The 1960s began with Cardinale working with Italian director Mauro Bologini, who she would collaborate with several times in Il bell’ Antonio. Over the next few years, she would star in several European movies including Cartouche, Napoleone ad Austerlitz, and Time of Indifference.
Her breakthrough year would come in 1963. First, she would star opposite Burt Lancaster in The Leopard as well as a memorable appearance in Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2.
These acclaimed movies were she simultaneously with Cardinale bouncing between the strict, disciplined set of The Leopard to the chaotic and improvisational set of 8 1/2. These 2 movies would be the first in which her voice was not dubbed.
Next, she would appear in The Pink Panther with David Niven and Peter Sellers and Time of Indifference with Rod Steiger and Shelley Winters. After completion of the later, she would begin to star in Hollywood movies.
From 1964 to 1967 Cardinale would appear in several American movies. She took the risk of not signing an exclusive contract, which was being offered by Universal.
“I took care of my own interests, blankly refusing to sign an exclusive contract with Universal Studios. I only signed for individual films. In the end, everything worked out fine for me.”
The first of her Hollywood movies was Circus World with Rita Hayworth and John Wayne. She also starred in Blindfold with Rock Hudson, who became one of her close friends.
She also appeared with Anthony Quinn in Lost Command, which she followed up with her best American movie, The Professionals – a Western that also starred Lee Marvin, Jack Palance and re-teamed her with Burt Lancaster.
In 1967 she married Italian director Franco Cristaldi in Atlanta, but the marriage was never made official in Italy.
After starring in the critically panned comedy Don’t Make Waves with Tony Curtis she returned to Italy. During her time in Hollywood, she became friends with Steve McQueen Barbara Streisand and her then-husband Elliot Gould.
End of the ’60s
In 1968 she appeared in The Day of the Owl, which she won the David Di Donatello Award for Best Actress (basically an Italian “Oscar”). She followed this up with the Italian comedy A Fine Pair, which co-starred her friend from Hollywood, Rock Hudson.
Next, she would appear in Sergio Leone’s classic Western Once Upon a Time in the West with Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson.
She would end the greatest decade of her career playing opposite Sean Connery in The Red Tent.