The Only Main Actor Still Alive From Once Upon A Time In The West

Sergio Leone was a pioneer of the spaghetti Western, often filming on location around Rome and other Italian cities and employing many of the country’s actors in his films. Leone did precisely that in casting Claudia Cardinale as the heroine of “Once Upon a Time in the West.” Cardinale had previously starred in “8 1/2,” a partly biographical film as the lead character, Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), is loosely based on director Federico Fellini. She never became a Hollywood fixture outside of “Once Upon a Time in the West” and spent the next several decades appearing in non-American movies, with her most recent appearance being in 2022’s “The Island of Forgiveness.”

She’s won numerous accolades for her acting, including a Career Golden Lion at the 1993 Venice Film Festival. Her legacy extends beyond performing, as she’s also been a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO since 2000 to help fight for women’s rights, but it’s clear that all these years later, she still holds an immense passion for the art of film. She spoke with Art Film Fest in 2014 about continuing to stay in this industry, saying, “Most people only live once. But I’ve lived 141 lives. So that’s why.” At the time of that interview, she had no intention of slowing down. “I’ve always got something to keep me busy. I’ll leave it to fate to decide how many more films I appear in,” she said.

Claudia Cardinale has starred in over 100 movies and TV shows, easily becoming one of the most iconic Italian film stars of all time. “Once Upon a Time in the West” may represent her most well-known performance, but it’s merely one of the many “lives” she’s “lived” on-screen.

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