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Sophia Loren

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Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren
Loren in 1959
Born Sofia Villani Scicolone
(1934-09-20) 20 September 1934
Rome, Italy
Residence Geneva, Switzerland
Nationality Italian
Other names Sofia Lazzaro
Sofia Scicolone
Occupation Actress
Years active 1950–present
Spouse(s) Carlo Ponti, Sr.
(m. 1957–62, annulled; 1966–2007, his death)
Children Carlo Ponti, Jr., Edoardo Ponti
Parents Ricardo Scicolone
Romilda Villani
Relatives Sasha Alexander (daughter-in-law)
Alessandra Mussolini (niece)

Sophia Loren (Italian pronunciation: ; born Sofia Villani Scicolone ; 20 September 1934) is an international film star and Italy's most renowned and honored actress. She began her career at age 14 after entering a beauty pageant in 1949. Encouraged to enroll in acting lessons, Loren appeared in several bit parts and minor roles until the late 1950s when Loren's five-picture contract with Paramount launched her international career. Notable film appearances around this time include Houseboat, That Kind of Woman and It Started in Naples.

It was not until her deglamorized performance as Cesira in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women that her talents as an actress were recognised. Loren's performance earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1962 and made her the first artist to win an Oscar for a foreign-language performance.

She holds the record for having earned six David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress, the most ever received: Two Women; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; Marriage Italian-Style (for which she was nominated for a second Oscar); Sunflower; The Voyage and A Special Day. After starting her family in the early 1970s, Loren spent less time on her acting career and chose to make only occasional film appearances. In later years, she has appeared in American films such as Grumpier Old Men and Nine.

As well as an Academy Award, Loren earned a Grammy Award, five special Golden Globes, a BAFTA Award, a Laurel Award as well as the Honorary Academy Award in 1991. In 1995, she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievements, one of many such awards.

Early life

Loren was born in the Clinica Regina Margherita in Rome, Italy,[1][2] daughter of Romilda Villani (1910–1991) and Riccardo Scicolone, a construction engineer. Scicolone refused to marry Villani, leaving Romilda, a piano teacher and aspiring actress, without support.[3] Loren's parents had another child together, her sister Maria, in 1938. Loren has two younger paternal half-brothers, Giuliano and Giuseppe.[4] Romilda, Sofia and Maria lived with Loren's grandmother in Pozzuoli, near Naples.[5]

During World War II, the harbour and munitions plant in Pozzuoli was a frequent bombing target of the Allies. During one raid, as Loren ran to the shelter, she was struck by shrapnel and wounded in the chin. After that, the family moved to Naples, where they were taken in by distant relatives. After the war, Loren and her family returned to Pozzuoli. Grandmother Luisa opened a pub in their living room, selling homemade cherry liquor. Villani played the piano, Maria sang and Loren waited on tables and washed dishes. The place was popular with the American GIs stationed nearby.

When she was 14, Sofia entered a beauty pageant, Miss Italia 1950 and, while not winning, was selected as one of the finalists. Later, she enrolled in acting class and was selected as an extra in Mervyn LeRoy's film Quo Vadis (1951), launching her career as a motion picture actress.


1950–57 (beginnings and Hollywood stardom)

Sophia Loren in It Started in Naples, in which she sang "Tu Vuò Fà L'Americano"

After being credited professionally as Sofia Lazzaro, she began using her current stage name in La Favorita (1952). The new name was a twist on the name of the Swedish actress Märta Torén and was suggested by Goffredo Lombardo or (according to the 2008 DVD) Carlo Ponti. Her first starring role was in Aida (1953), for which she received critical acclaim.[6] After playing the lead role in Two Nights with Cleopatra (1953), her breakthrough role was in The Gold of Naples (1954), directed by Vittorio De Sica.[6] Too Bad She's Bad, also released in 1954, became the first of many films in which Loren co-starred with Marcello Mastroianni. Over the next three years, she acted in many films such as Scandal in Sorrento (1955) and Lucky to Be a Woman (1956). In 1957, Loren's star had begun to rise in Hollywood, with the films Boy on a Dolphin (her US film debut), Legend of the Lost with John Wayne, and The Pride and the Passion in which she starred opposite Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. According to the 2008 DVD, Grant fell in love with her and proposed marriage although he was married to Betsy Drake. She instead married Carlo Ponti three days before her 23rd birthday, when he was 45.

International fame

Loren became an international film star following her five-picture contract with Heller in Pink Tights, in which she appeared as a blonde for the first time.

Theatrical poster for Two Women (1960). Loren's gritty performance earned her an Academy Award, the 1961 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award.[7] and 22 international awards.

In 1961, she starred in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, a stark, gritty story of a mother who is trying to protect her 12 year old daughter in war-torn Italy. The two end up gang-raped inside a church as they travel back to their home city following cessation of bombings there. Originally cast as the daughter, Loren fought against type and was re-cast as the mother (actress Eleonora Brown would portray the daughter). Loren's performance earned her many awards, including the Cannes Film Festival's best performance prize, and an Academy Award for Best Actress, the first major Academy Award for a non-English-language performance and to an Italian actress. She won 22 international awards for Two Women. The film proved to be extremely well accepted by the critics and it was a huge commercial success.

During the 1960s, Loren was one of the most popular actresses in the world, and she continued to make films in the United States and Europe, starring with prominent leading men. In 1964, her career reached its pinnacle when she received $1 million to appear in The Fall of the Roman Empire. In 1965, she received a second Academy Award nomination for her performance in Marriage Italian-Style.

Theatrical poster for El Cid with Charlton Heston (1961)

Among Loren's best-known films of this period are Samuel Bronston's epic production of El Cid (1961) with Charlton Heston, The Millionairess (1960) with Peter Sellers, It Started in Naples (1960) with Clark Gable, Vittorio De Sica's triptych Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963) with Marcello Mastroianni, Peter Ustinov's Lady L (1965) with Paul Newman, the 1966 classic Arabesque with Gregory Peck, and Charlie Chaplin's final film, A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) with Marlon Brando.

Loren received four Golden Globe Awards between 1964 and 1977 as "World Film Favorite – Female".[8]

Loren is known for her sharp wit and insight. One of her most frequently quoted sayings is a quip about her famously voluptuous figure: "Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti". However, on the 20 December 2009 episode of CBS News Sunday Morning, Loren denied ever delivering the line.


Loren worked less after becoming a mother. During the next decade, most of her roles were in Italian features. During the 1970s, she was paired with Richard Burton in the last De Sica-directed film, The Voyage (1974), and a remake of the film Brief Encounter (1974). The film had its premiere on US television on 12 November 1974 as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series on NBC. In 1976, she starred in The Cassandra Crossing, a classic disaster film featuring such veteran stars as Richard Harris, Martin Sheen and Ava Gardner. It fared extremely well internationally, and was a respectable box office success in US market. She also co-starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Ettore Scola's A Special Day (1977). This movie was nominated for eleven international awards such as two Oscars (best actor in leading role, best foreign picture). It won a Golden Globe Award and a César Award for best foreign movie. Loren's performance was awarded with a David di Donatello Award, the seventh in her career. In addition, the movie was extremely well received by American reviewers and was a box office hit and kick.

Following this success, Loren starred in an American thriller Brass Target. This movie received mixed reviews, although it was moderately successful in the United States and internationally. In 1978, she won her fourth Golden Globe for "world film favourite". Other movies of this decade were Academy award nominee Sunflower (1970) which was a critical success and Arthur Hiller's Man of La Mancha (1972) which was a critical and commercial failure despite being nominated for several awards including two Golden Globes Awards. O'Toole and James Coco were nominated for two NBR awards, in addition the NBR listed Man of La Mancha in its best ten pictures of 1972 list.

In 1980, after the international success of the biography Sophia Loren: Living and Loving, Her Own Story by A. Hotchner, Loren portrayed herself and her mother in a made-for-television biopic adaptation of her autobiography, Sophia Loren: Her Own Story. Ritza Brown and Chiara Ferrari each portrayed the younger Loren. In 1981, she became the first female celebrity to launch her own perfume, Sophia, and a brand of eyewear soon followed.[6] In 1982, while in Italy, she made headlines after serving an 18-day prison sentence on tax evasion charges—a fact that failed to hamper her popularity or career. In fact, Bill Moore, then employed at Pickle Packers International advertising department, sent her a pink pickle-shaped trophy for being "the prettiest lady in the prettiest pickle". In 2013, the supreme court of Italy cleared her of the charges.[9]

She acted infrequently during the 1980s and turned down the role of Alexis Carrington in 1981 for the television series Dynasty. Although she was set to star in thirteen episodes of CBS's Falcon Crest in 1984 as Angela Channing's half-sister Francesca Gioberti, negotiations fell through at the last moment and the role went to Gina Lollobrigida instead. Sophia preferred devoting more time to raising her sons.[10][11] In 1988, she starred in the miniseries The Fortunate Pilgrim.

Loren has also recorded well over two dozen songs throughout her career, including a best-selling album of comedic songs with Peter Sellers; reportedly, she had to fend off his romantic advances. It was partly owing to Sellers's infatuation with Loren that he split with his first wife, Anne Howe. Loren has made it clear to numerous biographers that Sellers's affections were reciprocated only platonically. This collaboration was covered in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers where actress Sonia Aquino portrayed Loren. It is said that the song "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?" by Peter Sarstedt was inspired by Loren.

Later career

Sophia Loren at an event in London in 2009

In 1991, Loren received the Academy Honorary Award for her contributions to world cinema and was declared "one of the world cinema's treasures". In 1995, she received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.[12]

She presented Federico Fellini with his Honorary Oscar. In 2009, Loren stated on Larry King Live that Fellini had planned to direct her in a film shortly before his death in 1993.[13]

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Loren was selective about choosing her films and ventured into various areas of business, including cookbooks, eyewear, jewelry and perfume.

She received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Robert Altman's film Ready to Wear (1994), co-starring Julia Roberts.

In 1994, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.[14]

In the romantic comedy Grumpier Old Men (1995), Loren played a femme fatale opposite Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon and Ann-Margret. The film was a box-office success and became Loren's biggest US hit in years.[6]

At the 20th Moscow International Film Festival in 1997, she was awarded an Honorable Prize for contribution to cinema.[15]

In 2001, Loren received a Special Grand Prix of the Americas Award at the Montreal World Film Festival for her body of work.[16] She filmed two projects in Canada during this time: the independent film Between Strangers (2002), directed by her son Edoardo and co-starring Mira Sorvino, and the television miniseries Lives of the Saints (2004).

In 2009, after five years off the set and fourteen years since she starred in a prominent US theatrical film, Loren starred in Rob Marshall's film version of Nine, based on the Broadway musical that tells the story of a director whose midlife crisis causes him to struggle to complete his latest film; he is forced to balance the influences of numerous formative women in his life, including his deceased mother. Loren was Marshall's first and only choice for the role. The film also stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Penélope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard and Nicole Kidman. As a part of the cast she received her first nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award.

In 2010, Loren played her own mother in a two-part Italian television miniseries about her early life, directed by Vittorio Sindoni, entitled La Mia Casa È Piena di Specchi (translated My House Is Full of Mirrors), based on the memoir written by her sister Maria.[17]

In July 2013, it was reported that Loren was to make her film comeback in an Italian adaptation of Jean Cocteau's 1930 play The Human Voice (La Voce Umana) which charts the breakdown of a woman who is left by her lover – with her youngest son, Edoardo Ponti, as director. Filming is to take under a month during July in various locations in Italy including Rome and Naples. It will be Loren's first significant feature film since the 2009 film Nine, which received mixed critical reviews.[18]

Personal life

Loren in 1986

Loren's primary residence has been in Geneva, Switzerland since late 2006.[19] She also owns homes in Naples and Rome.

In September 1999, Loren filed a lawsuit against 76 adult websites for posting altered nude photos of her on the internet.[20][21]

Loren is a huge fan of the football club S.S.C. Napoli. In May 2007, when the team was third in Serie B, she told the Gazzetta dello Sport that she would do a striptease if the team won.[22]

Loren posed scantily clad at 72 for the 2007 Pirelli Calendar, along with such actresses as Penélope Cruz and Hilary Swank.[23]

Loren is a Roman Catholic,[24] though on various issues, such as modesty in dress and her marriage, she has been at odds with the Church.[25]

Marriage and family

Loren first met [28]

They had two children:

Loren remained married to Carlo Ponti until his death on 10 January 2007 of pulmonary complications.[29]

When asked in a November 2009 interview if she were ever likely to marry again, Loren replied "No, never again. It would be impossible to love anyone else."[30]

In 1962, her sister, Anna Maria Villani Scicolone, married the youngest son of Benito Mussolini, Romano, with whom she had a daughter, the conservative Italian politician Alessandra Mussolini.

Her daughters-in-law are Sasha Alexander and Andrea Meszaros.[4][31] Loren has four grandchildren: Lucia Sofia Ponti (born 12 May 2006),[32] Vittorio Leone Ponti (born 3 April 2007).[4] Leonardo Fortunato Ponti (born 20 December 2010) and Beatrice Lara Ponti (born 15 March 2012).


Year Title Role Notes
1950 I Am the Capataz Secretary of the Dictator
Barbablu's Six Wives Girl kidnapped
Tototarzan A tarzanide
Il voto A commoner at the Piedigrotta festival
Hearts at Sea Extra Uncredited
1951 White Leprosy A girl in the boardinghouse
Owner of the Vapor Ballerinetta
Milan Billionaire Extra Uncredited
Magician for Force The bride
Quo Vadis Lygia's slave Uncredited
It Was Him!... Yes! Yes! Odalisque
Anna Night club assistant Uncredited
1952 And Arrived the Accordatore Amica di Giulietta
I Dream of Zorro Conchita As Sofia Scicolone
Favorite, TheThe Favorite Leonora
1953 Country of Campanelli, TheThe Country of Campanelli Bonbon
Pilgrim of Love
We Find Ourselves in the Gallery Marisa
Two Nights with Cleopatra Cleopatra/Nisca
Girls Marked Danger Elvira
Good Folk's Sunday Ines
Aida Aida
Africa Under the Seas Barbara Lama
1954 Neapolitan Carousel Sisina
giorno in pretura, UnUn giorno in pretura Anna
Anatomy of Love, TheThe Anatomy of Love girl, TheThe girl
Poverty and Nobility Gemma
Gold of Naples, TheThe Gold of Naples Sofia Segment "Pizze a Credito"
Attila Honoria
Too Bad She's Bad Lina Stroppiani
1955 Sign of Venus, TheThe Sign of Venus Agnese Tirabassi
Miller's Beautiful Wife, TheThe Miller's Beautiful Wife Carmela
River Girl, TheThe River Girl Nives Mongolini
Scandal in Sorrento Donna Sofia
1956 Lucky to Be a Woman Antonietta Fallari
1957 Boy on a Dolphin Phaedra
Pride and the Passion, TheThe Pride and the Passion Juana
Legend of the Lost Dita
1958 Desire Under the Elms Anna Cabot
Key, TheThe Key Stella
Black Orchid, TheThe Black Orchid Rose Bianco Volpi Cup-Venice Film Festival
Houseboat Cinzia Zaccardi
1959 That Kind of Woman Kay
1960 Heller in Pink Tights Angela Rossini
It Started in Naples Lucia Curio Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Millionairess, TheThe Millionairess Epifania Parerga
Breath of Scandal, AA Breath of Scandal Princess Olympia
Two Women Cesira
1961 Cid, ElEl Cid Chimena
Madame Sans-Gêne, a.k.a., "Madame" Catherine Hubscher, known as "Madame Sans-Gêne"
1962 Boccaccio '70 Zoe Segment "La Riffa"
The Prisoners of Altona with Maximillian Schell, Robert Wagner, and Frederic March Filmed in Tirrenia, Italy
Five Miles to Midnight Lisa Macklin
1963 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Adelina Sbaratti/Anna Molteni/Mara David di Donatello for Best Actress
Nominated — Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
1964 Fall of the Roman Empire, TheThe Fall of the Roman Empire Lucilla
Marriage Italian-Style Filumena Marturano
1965 Operation Crossbow Nora
Lady L Lady Louise Lendale/Lady L
1966 Judith Judith
Arabesque Yasmin Azir
1967 Countess from Hong Kong, AA Countess from Hong Kong Natasha
More Than a Miracle Isabella Candeloro Nominated — Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
1968 Ghosts - Italian Style Maria Lojacono
1970 Sunflower Giovanna
1971 Lady Liberty Maddalena Ciarrapico
Priest's Wife, TheThe Priest's Wife Valeria Billi
1972 Man of La Mancha Aldonza/Dulcinea
1973 The Sin Hermana Germana
1974 The Voyage Adriana de Mauro
Verdict Teresa Leoni
Brief Encounter Anna Jesson TV movie (Hallmark hall of fame)
1975 Sex Pot Pupa
1976 Cassandra Crossing, TheThe Cassandra Crossing Jennifer Rispoli Chamberlain
1977 Special Day, AA Special Day Antoinette
1978 Blood Feud Titina Paterno
Brass Target Mara/cameo role
Angela Angela Kincaid
1979 Firepower Adele Tasca
1980 Sophia Loren: Her Own Story Herself/Romilda Villani (her mother)
1984 Aurora Aurora Television film
1986 Courage Marianna Miraldo Television film
1988 Fortunate Pilgrim, TheThe Fortunate Pilgrim Lucia Television miniseries
1989 Running Away Cesira TV miniseries (remake of Two Women)
1990 Saturday, Sunday and Monday Rosa Priore Premiered during the Chicago film festival
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Isabella de la Fontaine
1995 Grumpier Old Men Maria Sophia Coletta Ragetti
1997 Soleil (fr) Maman Levy
2001 Francesca e Nunziata Francesca Montorsi TV miniseries
2002 Between Strangers Olivia
2004 Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed Peppers Maria
Lives of the Saints Teresa Innocente TV miniseries
2009 Nine Mamma
2010 My House Is Full of Mirrors Romilda Villani TV miniseries
2011 Cars 2 Mama Topolino Voice (in non-English speaking countries)
2013/14 La Voce Umana One-woman film role Short film; currently filming

Box Office Rating

According to box office polls, Loren was voted among the most popular stars with British audiences.

  • 1964 - most popular actress[34]
  • 1965 - 4th most popular star


  1. ^ Enciclopedia Treccani. "Sophia Loren – Treccani – L'Enciclopedia Italiana". Retrieved 15 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Sophia Loren at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Carr, Jay (22 August 1993). "Sophia Loren Now Appearing in 'El Cid,' she remains a very human icon".  
  4. ^ a b c "Sophia Loren Archives – Chronicles". Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Sophia Loren Has a Secret: How She's Managed To Survive".  
  6. ^ a b c d "Sophia Loren Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 15 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Two Women". Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Davies, Lizzy (24 October 2013). "Sophia Loren wins tax case after 40 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Hall, Jane (22 October 1984). "Sophia's Choice – Kids & Family Life, Sophia Loren". People. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Sophia Loren – Actors and Actresses – Films as Actress:, Publications". Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Sophia Loren reflects on her Hollywood". Golden Globes. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  13. ^ " – Transcripts". CNN. 15 December 2009. Retrieved 15 March 2010. 
  14. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
  15. ^ "20th Moscow International Film Festival (1997)". MIFF. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Awards 2001. Festival des Films du Monde.
  17. ^ "Sophia Loren plays her mother in biopic". The Times of India. 
  18. ^ "Sophia Loren to return to big screen in son's film". Reuters. 9 July 2013. 
  19. ^ "Sophia Loren – Loren Leaves Italy For Switzerland – Contactmusic News". 12 October 2006. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  20. ^ The Fake Detective. "Law Suits Involving Fakes And Celebrity Photographs". Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Staff writers (15 May 2007). "Napoli fan Sofia Loren to strip if team go up". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 23 April 2008. 
  23. ^ Gorgan, Elena (17 November 2006). "Sophia Loren Sizzles in the New Pirelli Calendar". Softpedia. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Carlo Ponti, Husband to Sophia Loren, Dead at 94". Fox News. 10 January 2007. 
  27. ^ Exshaw, John (12 January 2007). "Carlo Ponti".  
  28. ^ Carlo Ponti, Husband to Sophia Loren, Dead at 94 from Fox News 10 January 2007
  29. ^ "Sophia Loren's Husband Carlo Ponti Passes Away". Hello. 10 January 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  30. ^ Gordon, Jane (7 November 2009). "Sophia Loren: ‘I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up’". Daily Mail (London). 
  31. ^ "Carlo Ponti, Jr., Weds in St. Stephen's Basilica – Photo". Life. 18 September 2004. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  32. ^ Wren, Jennifer. "Passages – Sophia Loren". People. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  33. ^ "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  34. ^ 007 again tops the poll: London, Jan. 1 South China Sunday Post - Herald (1950-1972) [Hong Kong] 02 Jan 1966: 8.

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