Before I discovered the films of Federico Fellini in recent years, I had heard of Anita Ekberg but I didn't really know who she was. Boy, have I been missing out. It's like she represents a huge missing piece of the puzzle in my comprehension of pop culture history. In pursuing my well-documented fascination with Anna Nicole Smith, I had come to regard her classic sex-symbol predecessors as Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. But now I see that Anita Ekberg is obviously the true spiritual forebear of the notorious blonde Texan. Watching La Dolce Vita, I tapped into the seminal font of what I have termed annanicology, a pure and vital essence of overpowering femininity of which Ms. Smith herself is only a pale and (obviously) flawed reflection. Suddenly, for the first time I understood that Playboy video scene of Anna Nicole in a low-cut black gown dancing in a fountain.
Fellini is renowned for a predilection towards voluptuous women that I wholeheartedly share. And Anita Ekberg certainly qualifies as his ultimate full-figured muse. When she was crowned Miss Sweden in 1950, Anita's measurements were documented at 40-22-36. By the time Fellini cast her in La Dolce Vita a decade later, those numbers had clearly expanded to even more impressive dimensions, especially through her exquisitely generous hips. For the same director's segment in 1962's Boccaccio '70, Anita's decadent plumpness is intoxicating. As the giant goddess who springs to life from a controversially carnal milk billboard, she is a vision straight out of my personal desires. She is at once wild and childlike and tantalizing and dangerous, capable of reducing a man to insanity with her slightest whim. No slender actress could ever portray this sheer magnitude of projected anima force so convincingly.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, filmmakers other than Fellini apparently had no idea what to do with Anita Ekberg's extravagant charms, and her screen resume otherwise consisted mostly of forgettable B-movies. But her grand achievements are enough to secure her place in my pantheon of immortal femmes fatales.