Sophia Loren

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Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren - 1959.jpg
Loren in 1959
BornSofia Villani Scicolone
(1934-09-20) 20 September 1934 (age 80)
Rome, Italy
ResidenceGeneva, Switzerland
Other namesSofia Lazzaro
Sofia Scicolone
Years active1950–present
Spouse(s)Carlo Ponti, Sr.
(m. 1957–62, annulled; 1966–2007, his death)
ChildrenCarlo Ponti, Jr., Edoardo Ponti
ParentsRicardo Scicolone
Romilda Villani
RelativesAlessandra Mussolini (niece)
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Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren - 1959.jpg
Loren in 1959
BornSofia Villani Scicolone
(1934-09-20) 20 September 1934 (age 80)
Rome, Italy
ResidenceGeneva, Switzerland
Other namesSofia Lazzaro
Sofia Scicolone
Years active1950–present
Spouse(s)Carlo Ponti, Sr.
(m. 1957–62, annulled; 1966–2007, his death)
ChildrenCarlo Ponti, Jr., Edoardo Ponti
ParentsRicardo Scicolone
Romilda Villani
RelativesAlessandra Mussolini (niece)

Sophia Loren (Italian pronunciation: [soˈfiːa ˈlɔːren]; born Sofia Villani Scicolone [soˈfiːa vilˈlaːni ʃikoˈloːne]; 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 including; 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[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


1950–57 (beginnings and Hollywood stardom)[edit]

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). 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.

International fame[edit]

Loren became an international film star following her five-picture contract with Paramount Pictures in 1958. Among her films at this time were Desire Under the Elms with Anthony Perkins, based upon the Eugene O'Neill play; Houseboat, a romantic comedy co-starring Cary Grant; and George Cukor's 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.[citation needed]

Later career[edit]

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 – in which critics received it to mixed reviews.[18]

Personal life[edit]

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[edit]

Loren first met Carlo Ponti, Sr. in 1950 when she was 15 and he was 37. They married on 17 September 1957. However, Ponti was still officially married to his first wife Giuliana under Italian law because Italy did not recognize divorce at that time. The couple had their marriage annulled in 1962 to escape bigamy charges.[26] In 1965, Ponti obtained a divorce from Giuliana in France, allowing him to marry Loren on 9 April 1966.[27] They became French citizens after their application was approved by then French President Georges Pompidou.[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).


1950I Am the CapatazSecretary of the Dictator
Barbablu's Six WivesGirl kidnapped
TototarzanA tarzanide
Il votoA commoner at the Piedigrotta festival
Hearts at SeaExtraUncredited
1951White LeprosyA girl in the boardinghouse
Owner of the VaporBallerinetta
Milan BillionaireExtraUncredited
Magician for ForceThe bride
Quo VadisLygia's slaveUncredited
It Was Him!... Yes! Yes!Odalisque
AnnaNight club assistantUncredited
1952And Arrived the AccordatoreAmica di Giulietta
I Dream of ZorroConchitaAs Sofia Scicolone
Favorite, TheThe FavoriteLeonora
1953Country of Campanelli, TheThe Country of CampanelliBonbon
Pilgrim of Love
We Find Ourselves in the GalleryMarisa
Two Nights with CleopatraCleopatra/Nisca
Girls Marked DangerElvira
Good Folk's SundayInes
Africa Under the SeasBarbara Lama
1954Neapolitan CarouselSisina
giorno in pretura, UnUn giorno in preturaAnna
Anatomy of Love, TheThe Anatomy of Lovegirl, TheThe girl
Poverty and NobilityGemma
Gold of Naples, TheThe Gold of NaplesSofiaSegment "Pizze a Credito"
Too Bad She's BadLina Stroppiani
1955Sign of Venus, TheThe Sign of VenusAgnese Tirabassi
Miller's Beautiful Wife, TheThe Miller's Beautiful WifeCarmela
River Girl, TheThe River GirlNives Mongolini
Scandal in SorrentoDonna Sofia
1956Lucky to Be a WomanAntonietta Fallari
1957Boy on a DolphinPhaedra
Pride and the Passion, TheThe Pride and the PassionJuana
Legend of the LostDita
1958Desire Under the ElmsAnna Cabot
Key, TheThe KeyStella
Black Orchid, TheThe Black OrchidRose BiancoVolpi Cup-Venice Film Festival
HouseboatCinzia Zaccardi
1959That Kind of WomanKay
1960Heller in Pink TightsAngela Rossini
It Started in NaplesLucia CurioNominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Millionairess, TheThe MillionairessEpifania Parerga
Breath of Scandal, AA Breath of ScandalPrincess Olympia
Two WomenCesira
1961Cid, ElEl CidChimena
Madame Sans-Gêne, a.k.a., "Madame"Catherine Hubscher, known as "Madame Sans-Gêne"
1962Boccaccio '70ZoeSegment "La Riffa"
The Prisoners of Altonawith Maximillian Schell, Robert Wagner, and Frederic MarchFilmed in Tirrenia, Italy
Five Miles to MidnightLisa Macklin
1963Yesterday, Today and TomorrowAdelina Sbaratti/Anna Molteni/MaraDavid di Donatello for Best Actress
Nominated — Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
1964Fall of the Roman Empire, TheThe Fall of the Roman EmpireLucilla
Marriage Italian-StyleFilumena Marturano
1965Operation CrossbowNora
Lady LLady Louise Lendale/Lady L
ArabesqueYasmin Azir
1967Countess from Hong Kong, AA Countess from Hong KongNatasha
More Than a MiracleIsabella CandeloroNominated — Nastro d'Argento for Best Actress
1968Ghosts - Italian StyleMaria Lojacono
1971Lady LibertyMaddalena Ciarrapico
Priest's Wife, TheThe Priest's WifeValeria Billi
1972Man of La ManchaAldonza/Dulcinea
1973The SinHermana Germana
1974The VoyageAdriana de Mauro
VerdictTeresa Leoni
Brief EncounterAnna JessonTV movie (Hallmark hall of fame)
1975Sex PotPupa
1976Cassandra Crossing, TheThe Cassandra CrossingJennifer Rispoli Chamberlain
1977Special Day, AA Special DayAntoinette
1978Blood FeudTitina Paterno
Brass TargetMara/cameo role
AngelaAngela Kincaid
1979FirepowerAdele Tasca
1980Sophia Loren: Her Own StoryHerself/Romilda Villani (her mother)
1984AuroraAuroraTelevision film
1986CourageMarianna MiraldoTelevision film
1988Fortunate Pilgrim, TheThe Fortunate PilgrimLuciaTelevision miniseries
1989Running AwayCesiraTV miniseries (remake of Two Women)
1990Saturday, Sunday and MondayRosa PriorePremiered during the Chicago film festival
1994Prêt-à-PorterIsabella de la Fontaine
1995Grumpier Old MenMaria Sophia Coletta Ragetti
1997Soleil (fr)Maman Levy
2001Francesca e NunziataFrancesca MontorsiTV miniseries
2002Between StrangersOlivia
2004Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed PeppersMaria
Lives of the SaintsTeresa InnocenteTV miniseries
2010My House Is Full of MirrorsRomilda VillaniTV miniseries
2011Cars 2Mama TopolinoVoice (in non-English speaking countries)
2013/14La Voce UmanaOne-woman film roleShort film; currently filming

Box Office Rating[edit]

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


  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". Boston Globe. Retrieved 15 March 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Sophia Loren Archives – Chronicles". Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Sophia Loren Has a Secret: How She's Managed To Survive". Parade. 18 January 1987. 
  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. [dead link]
  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". The Independent (London). 
  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.

External links[edit]