- Born in Tunisia while the country was still under a French protectorate to Sicilian parents; she grew up speaking Arabic, French and a Sicilian dialect and only learned Italian when she became an actress.
- Won a local competition for the Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia, where the prize was a trip to the Venice Film Festival.
- Feature film debut was a small role in the Omar Sharif film Doha (1958).
- Released an autobiography in 1995.
- Was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2000.
- Featured on the official poster for the 70th Cannes Film Festival.
- 1993, Venice Film Festival — Lifetime Achievement: Winner
- 2002, Berlin Film Festival — Lifetime Achievement (Honorary Golden Bear): Winner
- 1968, David di Donatello Awards — Best Actress: Winner
- 1972, David di Donatello Awards — Best Actress: Winner
- 1965, Nastri d'argento — Best Actress: Winner
- 2016, David di Donatello Awards — Best Supporting Actress: Nominee
- 1982, Nastri d'argento — Best Supporting Actress: Winner
- 2014, Taormina Film Fest — Taormina Arte Award: Winner
- 1961, David di Donatello Awards — Special David (Honorary): Winner
- Francesco Cardinale — Father
- Yolanda — Mother
- Franco Cristaldi — Ex-husband
- Pasquale Squitieri — Significant Other
- Francesca Cardinale — Niece
- Bruno — Brother
- Patrick — Son
- Claudia Squitieri — Daughter
- Blanche — Sister
- Adrien — Brother
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