Posted on August 24 2018
When you think of quintessential Italian glamour, you most likely think of Sophia Loren, one of Italy’s most famous movie stars. Sophia has enjoyed a long and celebrated career, with her beautiful appearance being synonymous with classic Hollywood. She was a sex symbol and the most idolised Italian actress of her day. She is no doubt an icon of cinema, beloved the world over.
Sophia Loren was born Sofia Villani Scicolone in September 1934. Originally from Rome, she began using her stage name while working on the 1952’s La Favorita. Sophia’s career began at the age of 16, after she took part in the Miss Italia 1950 beauty pageant, placing as a finalist. She then enrolled in an acting class, taking small roles in various Italian movies, until her breakthrough in 1954, appearing in the anthology film The Gold of Naples.
Loren continued to take the lead in Italian cinema until 1958, when she found her way to Hollywood, and into a five-movie contract with Paramount Pictures. Sophia’s work in Hollywood varied from drama, to romantic comedies, to even a western, and she continued to dazzle audiences with her natural elegance and raw talent.
In 1960, Sophia was cast against type in the gritty Italian drama Two Women, directed by Vittorio De Sica. Her performance earned her universal praise and an array of awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actress – the first major Academy Award for both an Italian actress and a non-English speaking role. This no doubt led to Sophia’s rise in stardom, becoming one of the most popular actresses of the 1960s. Another Academy Award nomination would follow in 1965, for her performance in Marriage Italian Style. During the 1960s, Sophia worked opposite some of Hollywood’s most prominent leading men, including Marlon Brando, Clark Gable and Paul Newman.
In 1968, Loren’s career began to slow slightly as she gave birth to her first child, Carlo Ponti Jr, with husband Carlo Ponti Sr. A second son named Edoardo followed in 1973. Sophia’s career continued as she appeared in both Italian and American movies, but she worked less, preferring to dedicate her time to her sons.
By 1980, a biography of her life had been an international success, and an autobiographical TV movie was made, with Sophia portraying both herself and her mother. Her popularity with the public continued, and she became the first celebrity to launch her own perfume and eye make up– a trailblazer for something that is commonplace today. Sophia continued to eschew the spotlight throughout the 80s, often turning down acting roles, but she maintained her fame and popularity; 1991 saw her receive the honorary Academy Award for her contributions to world cinema. She made rare but impactful appearances in a handful of movies throughout the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, her iconic appearance and legendary screen charisma still being in high demand.
Sophia is not just an actress, having experimented with music throughout her career, releasing over twenty singles and collaborating on a comedy album with Peter Sellers.
She is also no stranger to controversy or scandal, like many celebrities: serving 18 days in an Italian jail for tax evasion charges in the 70s; a reported affair with Cary Grant; modelling, scantily clad, for the Pirelli calendar; marrying her husband Carlo Ponti Sr when he was not properly divorced, therefore having to annul the marriage to avoid bigamy charges. She was later properly married to Carlo Ponti and remained so for 41 years until Ponti’s death in 2007. They had two sons Edoardo and Carlo Jnr.
Despite all of this, Sophia continues to experience almost universal acclaim and popularity, and is still thought of as one of the most beautiful women to have ever graced the silver screen.
Sophia’s Best Known Films and the male stars she acted with:
The Gold of Naples 1954 was her big break
Too Bad She’s Bad with Marcello Mastroianni 1954 with whom she starred numerous times
Scandal in Sorrento 1955
Lucky to be a Woman 1956
Legend of the Lost with John Wayne 1957
The Pride and the Passion with Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra 1957
The Fall of the Roman Empire 1960
The Millionairess with Peter Sellers 1960
It Started in Naples with Clark Gable 1960
El Cid with Charlton Heston 1961
Two Women (La Ciociara) Sophia won as oscar - Best Actress - in 1962
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with Marcello Mastroianni won Best Foreign Language Film in 1963
Marriage Italian Style with Marcello Mastroianni 1964
Lady L with Paul Newman 1965
Arabesque with Gregory Peck 1966
A Countess from Hong Kong with Marlon Brando 1967
The Voyage with richard Burton 1974 - Best Actress
The Cassandra Crossing with Martin Sheen, Richard Harris and Ava Gardner 1976
A Special Day with Marcello Mastroianni 1977