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Italian film star Virna Lisi has died at the age of 78.

Virna Lisi, feted for her beauty and blonde locks, carved out a successful career in Hollywood, starring in films such as How To Murder Your Wife.

She was a force in European cinema, winning best actress at Cannes for 1994 French historical epic La Reine Margot.

The last of her movies was made in her native Italy in 2002.

However, Virna Lisi had been due to make a return to the screen in Italian comedy Latin Lover, which is due to be released in 2015.

Virna Lisi’s love affair with Hollywood ended with a fear that she was being typecast as the dumb blonde, leading her to terminate her contract with Paramount film studios in the late 1960s.

Her role in comedy How To Murder Your Wife, opposite Jack Lemmon, saw her pop out of a wedding cake clad in a bikini in one famous scene.

Virna Lisi also appeared in Assault on a Queen opposite Frank Sinatra in 1966 and performed alongside Tony Curtis in Not With My Wife, You Don’t! in the same year.

She turned down the role in director Roger Vadim’s classic Barbarella, eventually filled by Jane Fonda, leading to a break from acting during the early 1970s.

Later on in her career, Virna Lisi was awarded an honorary Italian Golden Globe award in 2004 in recognition of her cinematic achievements.

Virna Lisi was regularly lauded in her homeland for her work, winning seven David di Donatella awards in the 1980s and 90s, culminating in a special honor in 2009.

She had begun her film career as a teenager in the early 1950s with a string of roles in Italian movies.

Virna Lisi is survived by a son, Corrado, and three grandchildren. Her husband of 53 years, Italian architect Franco Pesci, died in 2013.

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