Brought up in poverty by her maternal grandparents after her Egyptian father disappeared and her unmarried Italian mother departed for Egypt
Worked in nightclubs where she sang street songs in a torchy contralto; also appeared in variety revues and by 1926 in experimental plays
Film debut in bit part in silent film, "Scampolo"
Film acting debut in "La Cieca di Sorrento/The Blind Women of Sorrento"
Came to attention of film director Goffredo Alessandrini who cast her in a small part in "Cavalleria" (1936)
After marriage to Alessandrini, retired from stage and screen (except for "La principessa Tarakanova" 1938) because he felt her unsuitable as a screen actress; returned to stage in melodramatic roles
Appeared in first important film, "Teresa Venerdi/Friday Theresa" (directed by Vittorio de Sica)
Appeared in racy revues for servicemen during the American occupation of Rome after WWII
"Il Miracolo/The Miracle" segment of the 1947 film "L'Amore/Love" was banned by the Commissioner of Licenses as "blasphemous" when it opened in New York in December
Made first Hollywood film, "The Rose Tattoo"
Final film performance in "The Secret of Santa Vittoria"
Returned to Italian stage in "La Lupa/She-Wolf" under the direction of Franco Zeffirelli
Appeared on stage as Medea in Jean Anouilh's play, directed by Gian Carlo Menotti
Final film appearance in a cameo in "Fellini's Roma"