Francesca Braggiotti, an Italian-American dancer, actress and dubber, was born in Florence on October 17, 1902, to Isidoro and Lily Schlesinger Braggiotti. Her father was an Italian tenor, her mother was an American mezzo-soprano from Boston. Both her parents were converted to Buddhism; she was the second of eight brothers and sisters, all destined for success in the arts. The family settled in Brookline, Massachusetts, after World War I.
She began her career as a dancer, forming the Braggiotti Sisters, a duo with her sister Berthe. The duo was an overwhelming success in Boston after World War I. Writer Alden Hatch wrote: "Two polyglot strikingly attractive and talented sisters, call Berthe and Francesca Braggiotti, were the biggest event of the Bostonian Society since Jack Gardner smoked a cigarette in public and built Fenway Court ".
Francesca and her sister Berthe opened a dance studio above the barracks of the Brookline Fire Department. For a public performance sponsored by the exclusive Vincent Club, the Mayor was asked about the limits of public decency, as he had authorized their costumes for some artistic purposes, although too small to be admitted to a public beach.
The poet Amy Lowell was so enchanted that she composed an ode in honor of Francesca. Isabella Stewart Gardner asked them to a private performance at Fenway Court.
The dance school of Braggiotti Sisters, as well as being the most expensive and requested, first introduced Dance Expressionist Movement in Boston and a new vision of health and beauty. Later she was the director of the New England branch of the Braggiotti-Denishawn School of Dancing.
After the untimely death of her elder sister in 1928, Francesca went to work in cinema and began dubbing in Italy. She starred in Rasputin and the Empress (1932), Little Women (1932), Scipio Africanus: The Defeat of Hannibal (1937), Stanotte alle undici (1937).
She was the first Italian voice of Greta Garbo and spoke the first bar dubbed in Italian film history: "Give me a cigarette!" in the movie Mata Hari by George Fitzmaurice.
Francesca married John Davis Lodge in 1929, and worked with him on the set of Stanotte alle undici. After her husband’s entry into politics, she withdrew from artistic life. Always a patron of the arts, she was a founding member of the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut.
She died at her home in Marbella, Spain, on February 25, 1998. She was 95.