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Carlo Ponti (11 December 1912 – 10 January 2007) was an Italianmarker film producer with over 140 production credits, and the husband of Italian movie star Sophia Loren.


Ponti was born in Magenta, Italymarker and studied law at the University of Milan. He joined his father's law firm in Milanmarker and became involved in the film business through negotiating contracts . Ponti attempted to establish a film industry in Milan in 1940 and produced Mario Soldati's Piccolo Mondo Antico there, starring Alida Valli, in her first notable role. The film dealt with the Italian struggle against the Austrians for the inclusion of northeastern Italy into the Kingdom of Italy during the Risorgimento. The film was successful, because it was easy to see "the Austrians as Germans" during World War II.. As a result, he was briefly jailed for undermining relations with Nazi Germany.

Ponti accepted an offer from Lux Film company in Romemarker in 1941, where he produced a series of commercially successful films featuring the comedian Totò . In 1954 he had his greatest artistic success with the production of Federico Fellini's La strada. However, Fellini denied Ponti's role in its success and said that "La Strada was made in spite of Ponti and De Laurentiis". He produced Visconti's Boccaccio '70 in 1962, Marriage Italian Style in 1964, and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in 1965. He produced his most popular and financially successful film, David Lean's Doctor Zhivago in 1965. He subsequently produced three notable films with Michelangelo Antonioni, Blowup in 1966, Zabriskie Point in 1970 and The Passenger in 1974.

Personal life

In 1946 he married Giuliana Fiastri . Around 1950, Ponti, while serving as a judge in a beauty contest, met a minor actress named Sofia Lazzaro. He subsequently cast her in films such as Anna (1951). In 1952 his friend, Goffredo Lombardo, head of production at Titanus, changed Lazzaro's name to Sophia Loren. In 1957, Ponti obtained a Mexicanmarker divorce from his first wife and married Sophia Loren by proxy. Divorce was still forbidden in Italy and he was informed that he would be charged with bigamy if he returned to Italy and Loren would be charged with "concubinage". Ponti co-produced several films in Hollywoodmarker starring Loren, establishing her fame, although most were box-office failures. In 1960 Ponti and Loren returned to Italy and when summoned to court, denied being married. Later, they had the marriage annulled in 1962, after which he arranged with his first wife, Giuliana, that the three of them move to France which at that time allowed divorce and become French citizens. In 1965 Giuliana Ponti divorced her husband, allowing Ponti to marry Loren in 1966 in a civil wedding in Sèvres.

Two unsuccessful attempts were made to kidnap Ponti in 1975, including one involving an attack on his car with gunfire .

Ponti was tried in absentia in 1979 for smuggling money and works of art abroad and fined 22 billion lire and sentenced to four years in prison. He did not attend the hearing, as his French nationality made him immune from extradition. He was finally cleared of the charges in 1990.


Ponti died in Genevamarker, Switzerlandmarker from pulmonary complications. He was survived by Loren, his sons Carlo (now a music conductor and music director of the San Bernardinomarker Symphony), film producer Alessandro; film director and former child actor Edoardo Ponti; and lawyer daughter Guendalina.

His body rests in Magenta, Italymarker. .



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