Claudia Cardinale was born Claude Josephine Rose Cardin on April 15, 1938 in Tunis, Tunisia. Her parents were Italian immigrants to the country and encouraged her career in drama. Claudia was first noticed by Italian casting directors when she won a 1957 beauty contest in Tunis.
In 1958, she was given her first film role in the movie "Goha". Later that year, she starred in Mario Monicelli's "I soliti ignoti" (Big Deal on Madonna Street), which helped to increase her fame in Europe.
In 1963, she starred alongside Burt Lancaster in Luchino Visconti's "The Leopard". That same year, she was given a leading role in Federico Fellini's massive hit, "8 1/2". In 1964, she starred in the Hollywood films "Circus World" and "The Pink Panther". In 1968, she starred in "The Hell With Heroes" and Sergio Leone's epic film "Once Upon a Time in the West".
In 1966, Bob Dylan used a picture of Claudia for the cover of his "Blonde on Blonde" album. However, he had not asked her permission and the picture was replaced in future prints of the album. In 1975, she starred in "Qui comincia l'avventura", followed by 1982's "Fitzcarraldo", 1987's "Un homme amoreux", and 2002's "And now...Ladies and Gentlemen".
At one point, Claudia married a man named Franco Cristaldi, but their marriage did not work out. In 1975, she fell in love with Pasquale Squitieri, an Italian film director, and they have been living together ever since. They have also had two children: Patrick and Claudia.
Outside of her acting career, Claudia has not been shy about her political beliefs. She is a strong supporter of women's rights. She also supports gay rights and has become involved with numerous humanitarian movements. In 1999, she was appointed a UNESCO good will ambassador for the defense of women's rights. She has also promoted sustaining supplies of fresh and clean water worldwide.