Scilla Gabel: The Sophia Loren Body Double We Never Knew We Needed

By | April 9, 2019

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The Italian actress Scilla Gabel (Gianfranca Gabellini) doing stretching exercises in a gym. Rome 1970s. Scilla Gabel in a publicity photo. Sources: (Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images; IMDB)

Actress Scilla Gabel was Sophia Loren's body double in a couple of films in the 1950s -- not a bad claim to fame. But while her uncanny resemblance to Loren got her some jobs, it might have ended up hurting her career as an actress in her own right.

For fans of Sophia Loren the only thing that would be more astounding than someone unearthing an unseen film is the knowledge that there was a brief period in Italian cinema where there were two Sophia Lorens, sort of. One has to wonder whether Gabel might have had a bigger career as an actress if she wasn't so closely identified with Loren or even seen as a Loren knock-off.

Born Gianfranca Gabellini, Scilla Gabel went onto appear in films throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, and she starred in a handful of Italian mini-series on the 1980s, but her star never rose as high as Loren’s despite their similarities. 

Before Gabel Was A Body Double She Was Almost A Lawyer

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Sources: (IMDB; Pinterest)

Prior to diving headfirst into the entertainment industry, Gabel studied law at Oxford University where she supposedly graduated with a doctorate, although that information is hard to ascertain. After studying law she returned to Rome where she attended school for acting at the National Academy of Dramatic Arts in Rome.

Even though Gabel was incredibly qualified, she was bitten by the acting bug and decided to pursue a life in front of the camera. This dedication to her craft would pay off, but her first film roles didn’t have the kind of glamour that she expected. They rarely do.