Born in Rome to an Italian father and an English mother (Ivy Webb from Croydon), Mangano lived in poverty during the Second World War. Trained for seven years as a dancer, she was supporting herself as a model.
In 1946, at age 16, Mangano won the “Miss Rome” beauty pageant and through this, she obtained a role in a Mario Costa film. One year later, she became a contestant in the Miss Italia contest. The contest that year became a springboard for a pool of potential actresses, including the winner Lucia Bosé “The Queen”, Mangano and several other future stars of Italian cinema such as Gina Lollobrigida, Eleonora Rossi Drago and Gianna Maria Canale.
Mangano’s earliest connection with filmmaking occurred through her romantic relationship with actor Marcello Mastroianni. This led her to a film contract, though it would take some time for Mangano to ascend to international stardom with her performance in Bitter Rice (Riso Amaro, Giuseppe De Santis, 1949). Thereafter, she signed a contract with Lux Film, in 1949, and later married Dino De Laurentiis, who was on the verge of becoming a known producer.
Though she never scaled the heights of her contemporaries Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, Mangano remained a favorite star between the 1950s and 1970s, appearing in Anna (Alberto Lattuada, 1951), The Gold of Naples (L’oro di Napoli, Vittorio De Sica, 1954), Mambo (Robert Rossen, 1955), Theorem (Teorema, Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968), Death in Venice (Morte a Venezia, Luchino Visconti, 1971), and The Scientific Cardplayer (1972).
( source: Wikipedia )
My favorite of her films will always be Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’, one of the great Italian films of the 1960ies.