Underrated Female #7: Florinda Bolkan

10/28/2008

Florinda Bolkan (né Florinda Soares Bulcao) was born in northeastern Brazil in 1941. Her father, Josè Pedro, was over 60 at the time. Widower and state deputy, his second marriage to Maria Hosana, an 18 year old Indios girl who barely knew how to write, gave him three wonderful children: Alina, Josè Maria and the youngest, Florinda.  After graduation from secondary school, she managed to secure a job as Executive Hostess for Brazil’s national airline, Varig.  Dissatisfied, she moved to Paris at 18, attended the Sorbonne, yet failed to find her place in her new city. After modestly turning down many modeling offers she returned to Brazil to find her way.

In 1967 she met Italian director Luchino Visconti in Rome, who convinced her to overcome her shyness and become an actress. She was quicly cast in her first film, Voleur de Crimes (Crime Thief) immediately followed by Candy alongside Richard Burton and Marlon Brando. She is most recognized in the U.S., however, for her role in Visconti’s The Damned with Helmut Berger, Ingrid Thulin and Dirk Bogarde. In the months to follow, Florinda Balkan starred in a multitude of films including the 1968 Metti una Sera a Cena for which she won her first Donatello award (the Italian Oscar.) In 1969 with Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion she went on to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Hollywood studios begin calling her in droves.  Between 1970 and 1990 Florinda Balkan acted in over 40 films with some of the most important actors and film directors in the world including The Last Valley with Michael Caine and Omar Sharif

Bolkan continues writing and producing frilms through her eponymous production company, but perhaps her most rewarding endeavor has been her 2004 founding of her charitable division which raises and distributes sustenance funds to LAR DE ISMAEL an orphanage in São Paulo, Brazil.

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