Now that Anna Nicole Smith is deceased and the paternity of her baby has been resolved, Camille “Sexual Personae” Paglia is hailing her as a “populist heroine” (here and here). Paglia compares Smith to Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Anita Ekberg, regretting that today’s Hollywood couldn’t have made better use of what Paglia sees as Smith’s Mansfield-like comedic talents.
Anita Ekberg had her big iconic moment – and her most likely claim to immortality – in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960, above), but she was also well cast in King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), and – like Jayne Mansfield – she was lucky enough to be directed in two films by the great Frank Tashlin (Artists and Models, and Hollywood or Bust) which also happen to be the two best Martin & Lewis films. Some 30 years later, Ekberg appeared as herself in Fellini’s Intervista (1987), proving, like Mae West and Mamie Van Doren, that blonde bombshells don’t have to die young – or ever give up their bombshellness.
I haven’t mentioned Kim Novak yet, because (at least, to me) she is a special case. Sometimes seen as a sophisticated actress/beauty in the mold of Dietrich or Grace Kelly, and sometimes as a bombshell in the Monroe mold, her double role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo proves that she was/is actually both.