Sophia Loren

Actress, Sex Symbol, Mother & Business Woman

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During the 1960s, Sophia Loren was one of the most popular actresses in the world, has received numerous awards all over the world, is the last living actress of the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest screen legends and has been one of the best known sex symbols throughout her career. 



Sofia Costanza Brigida Villani Scicolone was born on September 20, 1934 in Rome, Italy. Her parents were unmarried, her mother Romilda Villani was a piano teacher and an aspiring actress, her father Riccardo Scicolone Murillo a failed engineer. Although they had another daughter four years later, Maria, Riccardo refused to marry and to support Sofia’s mother financially. 

So, Romilda lived with her two daughter in grandmother Luisa’s home in Pozzuoli near Naples. As this was host to a harbor and a munitions plant, bombing was frequent and Sofia subsequently injured on the chin by a shrapnel. Thus, for the remainder of the war, they would move to Naples and only return afterwards. This is when Luisa opened a pub in her living room, where the four women entertained with homemade liquor, music and entertainment. 

In 1950, Sofia entered the Miss Italia beauty pageant – aged 15 and with the stage name Sofia Lazaro. She became one of the last three finalists and won the title of Miss Elegance 1950. 

One year later, she enrolled in the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and started acting right away. At only 16, she appeared in Qua Vadis as an extra and in some other bit parts for the next two years. In 1953, Carlo Point changed her name from Sofia Lazzaro to Sophia Loren to appeal to a wider audience. Her first starring performance in Aida that very year got her critical praise and kick-started her road to stardom. 

Until 1957, Sophia Loren acted in several Italian movies and established legendary on-screen chemistry with frequent co-star Marcello Mastroianni. She also acted in American pictures like Legend of the Lost as well as The Pride and the Passion opposite Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. 

International Stardom

Sophia Loren’s career really took off, once she signed a five-picture non-exclusive contract with Paramount Pictures in 1958. In the following years, she would film both with Paramount and with other companies, especially Italian ones. Although she was picture-perfect beautiful, she was not afraid to challenge expectations – change her hair color for George Cukor’s Heller in Pink Tights or play a mother to a 12-year-old in Victor de Sica’s Two Women in 1960. Two Women actually was the film that got her international recognition and worldwide fame – she not only received the first Academy Award for Best Actress given to a non-English performance or an Italian actress, but also 22 other international awards for it. From then onwards her success only continued and her fame rose to new heights. 

Films in the 1960s included US and Italian movies like The Millionairess with Peter Sellers, It Started in Naples, Lady L with Paul Newman, Arabesque with Gregory Peck, Charlie Chaplin’s A countess from Hong Kong and Marriage Italian-Style with Marcello Mastroianni. For El Cid in 1961 and The Fall of the Roman Empire in 1965 Sophia Loren reportedly earned $1 million each.  

Being a Mother and a Star

In 1968, Sophia Loren became a first-time mother and subsequently appeared in fewer movies. During the 1970s, she predominantly appeared in Italian feature films. Notable films of her that also became well-known in the US were amongst others Cassandra Crossing opposite Ava Gardner, Richard Harris and Burt Lancaster and 1979’s Firepower co-starring James Coburn and OJ Simpson. 

In the 1980s, being a mom of two now since 1973, she decided to devote more time to her sons and acted less frequently. One of the movie highlights of the decade was the biopic Sophia Loren: My Own Story based on her biography by A.E. Hotchner. By the way, Hotchner was a famous biographer and, amongst others, has written the biographies of Doris Day and Ernest Hemingway.  

Interestingly, she was asked to star in two major television series. First, she was offered the role of Alexis Carrington in Dynasty, but turned it down. The role as we all probably know went to Joan Collins instead. The second series she was slated for was Falcon Crest – as Angela Channing’s half-sister Francesca Gioberti. And this one almost happened, but negotiations fell through and the role went to Gina Lollobrigida. 

In the 1990s, she appeared infrequently, for example in Robert Altman’s Pret-a-Porté or Grumpier Old Men opposite Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. In 2009, five years after her last movie Lives of Saints (2004) and a whopping 14 years since starring in a major US movie, she starred in Nine opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, Penélope Cruz, Kate Hudson and Nicole Kidman.  

Singing Career

Sophia Loren was not only an actress, but also a singer. Throughout her career, she has recorded more than two dozen songs and even a bestselling album with co-star Peter Sellers. 


Sophia Loren is a highly decorated actress with award wins all over the world. 

Her first Academy Award for Best Actress was also the first one handed out for a non-English performance and the first one given to an Italian actress. She received a second Academy Award nomination for Marriage Italian-Style in in 1964. 

She received four Golden Globes as „World Film Favorite – Female“ between 1964 and 1978. 

For her career, her body of work and her contribution to the cinema, Sophia Loren received received an Academy Honorary Award in 1991 and in 1995 the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. She also has received a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 1994, and was  honored at the Moscow International Film Festival as well as at the Montreal World Film Festival. 

She received a star at Algeria Walk of Fame in Spain as well as the Algeria Tierra de Cine award in 2017. The last honor so far was receiving and award for Best Actress by the American Association of Retired Persons and theGrand Dame award of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists in 2021.

Important side note: Sophia Loren is still alive at the time of this recording and, therefore, is the last actress on the American Film Institutes Best Actors and Actresses list to still be alive. Latest health update is that she had emergency surgery in the fall of 2023 following fractures to her hip and femur after a fall at her home in Geneva, Switzerland, where she has been residing permanently since 2006 .

Other Business Ventures

Sophia Loren was actually the first celebrity to launch a signature perfume called „Sophia“ in 1981. She followed it up with a line of eyewear – which is fitting as she always wore rather prominent glasses when appearing publicly.

In the 1990s and 2000s, Sophia Loren expanded her brand business and launched additionally cookbooks and jewelry. 


Honestly, Sophia Loren is probably one of the few actresses where the segment „Relationships“ is rather boring. Because there is not much – and definitely no scandal. All in all, there are only two men. 

Cary Grant – Sophia Loren and Cary Grant got to know each other on the set of The Pride and the Passion in 1957 and started an affair – with Grant still being married to wife Betsy Drake. She was actually the one who had penned the script of Houseboat and had planned to act opposite her husband. But Grant, totally infatuated with Loren got his wife replaced with Loren and the script rewritten – Drake wanted nothing to do with it anymore and refused to be credited for the script and screenplay. Problem being: The Grant-Loren affair turned sour during the filming of The Pride and the Passion – with Loren ending the affair. Thus, filming Houseboat a short while later proved difficult and awkward for all involved.   

Carlo Ponti – Sophia Loren got to know Carlo Ponti in 1950 – when he was 37 and she was a mere 15 years old. When exactly the affair started – unclear. But, they married by proxy (which means they were not in attendance, but two male lawyers instead) in September 1957 in Mexico. Although they continued to live together, they got the marriage annulled a short 5 years later to avoid bigamy charges as Ponti had not legally been divorced from his first wife, Giuliana. In 1965, when they became French citizens, Ponti divorced Giuliana and married Sophia Loren a second time in April 1966. They had two kids – Carlo Point Jr and Edoardo Ponti. Edoardo Ponti, who directed his mother in several short and feature length movies is married to actress Sasha Alexander, who most people might know as Gretchen in Dawson’s Creek. Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti stayed married until his death in 2007. So, basically, Sophia Loren was with him her entire life. 

Peter Sellers – Although Sophia Loren did not have a relationship with him, actor Peter Sellers was infatuated with Sophia Loren after recording songs with her. Reportedly, he even ended the marriage to then-wife Anne Howe to pursue Sophia Loren. Loren on the other hand has always maintained that she has only ever reciprocated his advances platonically. 


In 1982, Sophia Loren served an 18-day prison sentence on tax evasion charges. It did not do any damage to her career and she was cleared of all charges in 2013. 

In 1999, Loren filed a lawsuit against 79 website that posted nude photos of her, changed and altered digitally, on the Internet. 

In short, Sophia Loren had a great career without major trials and setbacks – it flowed rather smoothly. She also made her family a priority and always stayed true to her European roots. 

With all my love!




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