The Years of La Dolce Vita

May 20, 2014 / Arts and Culture

By Don Grant

Don Grant luxuriates in the black and white world of celebrity culture in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Years of La Dolce Vita
Estorick Collection
39a Canonbury Square,
 N1 2AN

Until 29 June 2014
Admission £5 

Over at the V&A they have a somewhat unglamorous show called The Glamour
 of Italian Fashion, but if it’s real fascino you are after, then the Estorick has it in spades, and you can luxuriate in the black and white world of celebrity culture in the 1950s and 1960s.

Paparazzo was originally the name of a character in Fellini’s 1960 seminal film La Dolce Vita, played by Walter Santesso, who focused on the hedonists, partygoers 
and sybarites in Rome at that time.
The man who inspired the character
 was actually an amalgam of photo-journalists, including Marcello Geppetti.

In real life, as opposed to reel life, the film stars, attracted by the relative inexpensiveness of Cinecittà were seen
 to be out and about the Eternal City, frequenting the restaurants, bars and night clubs of the exclusive Via Veneto and Tre Scalini in the Piazza Navona. Rino Barillari and Felice Qinto were fellow snappers, and there exists an uncredited photo of Rino being thumped by an American actor Mickey Hargitay, Jayne Mansfield’s husband, while top-model Vatussa Vitta smacks him with her purse. So the paparazzi being ‘papped.’

Geppeti had better luck when he shot Franco Nero smacking poor, old Rino again at the Trevi Fountain, scene of the most famous scene in La Dolce Vita, in which Anita Ekberg cavorts in a black velvet dress with no visible means of support. The Swedish bombshell made her home in Rome after the success of the Fellini film, and became fodder for the Italian press,
 and there is a photo of her driving her Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster in Rome in 1962 taken by Geppeti. She also attacked a couple of paparazzi, including Geppeti, firstly with a bow and arrow and then unladylike fists.

During this period, European actors like Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon and Sophia Lauren mixed with big Hollywood stars, like John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Audrey Hepburn, Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas and Liz Taylor and were all in Rome, in full public view, to be snapped at will
 in what became known as ‘an open-air film-set’. Taylor and Richard Burton were famously snapped by Gepetti having a snog on a boat in Ischia off 
the Amalfi Coast, where the scenes on Cleopatra’s barge were shot.

There were other candid photos of Elizabeth Taylor sunbathing and swimming, taken by a ‘proper’ celebrity portrait photographer, Bert Stern. Arturo Zavattini worked 
as a cameraman for many great Italian directors including Vittorio De Sica, 
and produced some fascinating behind-the-scenes photographs on the set of La Dolce Vita, with Fellini’s full co-operation and consent.

There is, of course, an unsavoury side to this fascination with fame, which, ironically, is central to the theme of La Dolce Vita, and spawned 
a whole industry of stalking, intrusion and invasion of celebs’ privacy. Not a 
lot has changed in the last 50 years, 
and some would argue that it has got a lot worse, culminating in the death of Princess Diana, after being hounded
 by the paps.

Some people court the attention, including Lady Di herself in her early years, and then cannot control the monster they have created, and 
there are rakes of magazines devoted 
to this unhealthy obsession. For all our ‘guilty pleasure’ we take in them, there is, however, a certain schadenfreude coursing through our veins when the biter gets bit. The name of Max Clifford springs
to mind, perhaps accompanied by the headline 'Gotcha!


Originally published in Kensington and Chelsea Today.

Comments (19)

  • I think this picture are saying lots of work load at office. During working, permit little breaks so you don’t over strive write my paper for me Plan out what work will do on one day and after that what work will do on another for the most part completing things off that take need and leaving littler errands till last thing that you have shared very nicely

    by kathybrunt on 2017 08 04

  • Now you could play hearts online as high as you want free of cost without needing to download and install anything. As a result of this gamers are regularly searching for a website for severe Hearts players where they can contend at a top-level in ups for grabs.

    by garry on 2017 08 09

  • I like the stuff very much smile

    by JhonLinda on 2017 09 17

  • You made it possible

    by Barik on 2017 09 17

  • This is an amazing type of post.

    Lays and Coke

    by Ronald9 on 2017 09 17

  • In 1950 to 1960 the main fashion is to black and white things where clothes are the main objects that everyone wants to add in this new trend to wear white and black matching. I ready custom writing article as fashion is established new thing new design are introduced that defeat the old fashion. But black and white, white shirt and black cot are the gift from 1950-1960 that this fashion is still using and should using forever.

    by James78 on 2017 09 23

  • The Kroger ad is a weekly ad available for kroger clients and for kroger ad utilisers. kroger ad

    by kroger ad on 2017 10 11

  • Nice one.. abc

    by Jack William on 2017 11 26

  • Online games are very nice and amazing to play sudoku online free of cost with full fun and enjoy if you want to play so click on our site and play.

    by Sudoku online on 2018 06 02

  • Nice post, all issue related with your computer Antivirus, mail and security. We provide online solution. Call us toll free hp laptop contact number +1-877-2498558. For more information visit here:-  hp laptop contact,

    by hp laptop contact number on 2018 06 12

  • There may be always the option of going to an expert, in the event you see cracks or scratches or denting in your gold piece.

    by chrisgail on 2018 12 03

  • Hello
    My name is johns berry and this is very amazing post thanks for sharing with us.

    Best <a href =“”>Perdisco Assignment Help</a> in us.

    by johnsberry on 2019 01 17

  • Hello
    My name is johns berry and this is very amazing post thanks for sharing with us.

    Get the Best Perdisco Assignment Help visit:-

    by johnsberry on 2019 01 17

  • Your article provided us with valuable information, I read your blog great work keep sharing with us.
    <a >Jeans Manufacturers in Delhi</a>

    by Jeans Manufacturers in Delhi on 2019 02 27

  • I read your useful blog great work keep it up your article provided us with helpful information for me, thank you so much.
    <a >Painting Company Logo Design</a>

    by Painting Company Logo Design on 2019 02 27

  • I seen your blog and I will read your all information you will mention on your article it’s really useful keep sharing this valuable blog, thank you so much for share with us.
    <a >Kerala Motorcycle Tours</a>

    by Kerala Motorcycle Tours on 2019 02 27

  • I will deeply read your all information you will mention on your article it’s great work keep it up superb job.
    <a >Lifestyle Magazine India</a>

    by Lifestyle Magazine India on 2019 02 27

  • I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read. I will deeply read your all information you will mention on your article it’s really helpful for me, thank you so much.
    <a >Shipping Company in India</a>

    by Shipping Company in India on 2019 02 27


    Get the latest & greatest apps, tips, tricks & tutorials on Android, we also try to cover various other tech like Windows PC, Apple iOS & Mac.

    by on 2019 03 09

Post a new comment