Brought up in a very poor family, Silvana Mangano's mother nonetheless manages to pay dancing classes to her daughter who dreams of the Opera. As a teenager, she participates to many beauty pageants and is elected 'Miss Rome' in 1946. She soon takes acting lessons and meets Marcello Mastroianni, her first love, who introduces her to film directors. She meets stardom, in 1949, in Giuseppe De Santis' Riso Amaro, a sensual and communist film, that introduces her as Italy's major postwar sex symbol. The same year, she marries the producer, Dino de Laurentiis who makes her work with the most notable names of the period such as Vittorio Gassman, Kirk Douglas or Anthony Perkins. Getting older, she plays more and more demanding roles for which she incarnates the ideal forty-year-old sensual and neurotic woman and becomes Pier Paolo Pasolini's sultry muse in such films as Teorema, in 1968 and Luchino Visconti's hieratic icon, in Death in Venice, in 1971. Her son's accidental death, in 1981, and her illness announce the decline of her career and she stars in her last film, in 1987 as Marcello Mastroianni's wife in Dark Eyes like a return to the origins. Silvana Mangano who had embodied an erotic fantasy described as 'Anna Magnani minus 15 years, Ingrid Bergman with a Latin disposition and Rita Hayworth plus 25 pounds' hated the image Riso Amaro had fabricated – the erotic voluptuous vamp - she escaped with numerous drastic diets had nonetheless rapidly given place to an early MILF.