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Sophia Loren (born September 20, 1934) is an Italian actress. In 1961, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for Two Women, becoming the first actress to win an Academy Award for a non-English-speaking performance.

Early life

Loren was born Sofia Villani Scicolone at the Clinica Regina Margherita in Romemarker on September 20, 1934, to Riccardo Scicolone and Romilda Villani. Scicolone refused to marry Villani, leaving her, a piano teacher and aspiring actress, without support. Romilda, Loren and sister Maria returned to Pozzuoli, near Naples, to live with Loren's grandmother in order to survive.

During World War II, the harbor 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. Subsequently, the family moved to Naples and begged distant relatives to take them in.

After the war, Loren and her family returned to Pozzuoli. Grandmother Luisa opened their living room as a pub, selling homemade cherry liquor. Villani played the piano, Maria sang and Loren waited tables and washed dishes. The place was very popular with the American GIs stationed nearby.

When she was 14 years old, Loren entered a beauty contest in Naples and, while not winning, was selected as one of the finalists. Later she enrolled in acting class and was selected as an extra in the Mervyn LeRoy film, Quo Vadis, thus launching her career as a motion picture actress. She eventually changed her name to Sophia Loren.


Loren first met Carlo Ponti in 1950 during a beauty contest in which he was a judge. Having helped launch Gina Lollobrigida's career, he had Loren do many small parts. Later, while in Mexico in 1957, he had lawyers obtain a Mexican divorce from his wife Giuliana and a marriage by proxy to Loren. Italy did not recognize divorce at the time, and the Catholic Church denounced their marriage. In 1962 the marriage was annulled. After this he arranged with Giuliana for the three of them to move to France, which at that time allowed divorce, and they became French citizens. In 1965 Giuliana Ponti divorced her husband, allowing Ponti to marry Loren in 1966 in a civil wedding in Sèvres.

After several miscarriages, Loren gave birth to Carlo Ponti Jr. (born December 29,1968), now a conductor, and Edoardo Ponti (born January 6, 1973), now a film director. Edoardo Ponti married actress Sasha Alexander in Geneva, Switzerland; they have a daughter Lucia Sofia, born May 12, 2006.


By the late 1950s, Loren's star had begun to rise in Hollywood, with films such as 1957's Boy on a Dolphin and The Pride and the Passion in which she co-starred with Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra.

International fame

Loren became an international film star with a five-picture contract with Paramount Pictures. Among her films at this time: 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.

In 1960, Loren's acclaimed performance in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women earned many awards, including the Cannesmarker, Venice and Berlin Film Festivals' best performance prizes. Her performance was also awarded an Academy Award for Best Actress, the first major Academy Award for a non-English-language performance and Italian actress. Initially, the stark, gritty story of a mother and daughter surviving in war-torn Italy was to cast Anna Magnani as Sophia's mother. Negotiations broke down and the screenplay was rewritten to make Loren the mother; Eleonora Brown portrayed the daughter.

Loren is known for her sharp wit and insight. One of her most frequently-quoted sayings is her quip about her famously-voluptuous figure: "Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti."

During the 1960s, Loren was one of the most popular actresses in the world, and she continued to make films in both the U.S. and Europe, acting with leading male stars. In 1964, her career reached its zenith when she received $1 million to act in The Fall of the Roman Empire.

Among Loren's best-known films of this period are Samuel Bronston's epic production of El Cid with Charlton Heston, The Millionairess (1960) with Peter Sellers,It Started in Naples with Clark Gable (1960), Vittorio De Sica's triptych Ieri, oggi, domani (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. Other performances include A Breath of Scandal (1960), Madame Sans-Gêne (1962), Heller in Pink Tights (1960) and More than a Miracle (1967).

Musical career

Loren 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' infatuation with Loren that he split with his first wife, Anne Howe. Loren has made it clear to numerous biographers that Sellers' 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 " by Peter Sarstedt was inspired by Loren.

Later career

Loren in Kenya while serving as Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations and High Commissioner for Refugees in November 1992

Once she became a mother, Loren worked less. She moved into her 40's and 50's with roles in films including the last De Sica movie, The Voyage, with Richard Burton and Ettore Scola's A Special Day with Mastroianni.

In 1980, Loren portrayed herself, as well as her mother, in a made-for-television biopic adaptation of her autobiography. Actresses, Ritza Brown and Chiara Ferrari played Loren at younger ages. She made headlines in 1982 when she served an 18-day prison sentence in Italy on tax evasion charges, a fact that didn't damage her career or popularity.

In her 60s, Loren became selective about choosing her films and ventured into various areas of business, including cook books, eyewear, jewelry and perfume. She also made well-received appearances in Robert Altman's Ready to Wear (her final film with Mastroianni) and the 1995 comedy Grumpier Old Men playing a femme fatale opposite Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

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.

In 1993, Loren presented Federico Fellini with an Academy Honorary Award. In 1998, she presented the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful.

In 2001, Loren received a Special Grand Prix of the Americas Award at the Montreal World Film Festivalmarker for her body of work.

In 2009, she co-presented the category of Best Actress at the 81st Academy Awards. After four years off the set and fourteen years since she starred in a prominent US theatrical film, Loren will star in Rob Marshall's film version of Nine, based on the Broadwaymarker 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 choice to portray the mother. During the red carpet for the 81st Academy Awards, she expressed how much she enjoyed the filming.

Current activities

Loren, at the age of 72, appeared in the 2007 Pirelli Calendar entitled "A Bed and Five Stories" along with Hillary Swank, Penelope Cruz, Naomi Watts, and Lou Doillon.

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 they achieved promotion to Serie A for the 2007/08 season. "The fans have a total passion, the city deserves promotion", Loren said. Although they achieved promotion to Serie A on June 10, 2007, Loren did not do a striptease.

Loren's famous eyes can be found on the Italian wine Fattoria Paradiso bottles.

There is a street in the city of Etobicokemarker, Toronto, Ontario named for her.

Loren is referenced in the song "Italian Girls" by 80s duo Hall & Oates on the 1982 album H20. The lyrics in the bridge say "I see Sophia on the Silver Screen, there must be more like her in Rome."

In 2009, it was revealed that Loren had written a letter in favour of the beatification of John Paul II.


Year Film Role Notes
1950 I am the Capataz Secretary of the Dictator
Barbablu's Six Wives Girl kidnapped
Tototarzan A tarzanide
I Devote, Thee A popular to the party of piedigrotta
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's Him!... Yes! Yes! Odalisca
Anna Night club assistant Uncredited
1952 And Arrived the Accordatore Amica di Giulietta
I Dream of Zorro Conchita
The Favorite Leonora
1953 The Country of Campanelli N/A
Pilgrim of Love N/A
We Find Ourselves in Arcade 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
A Day in Court Anna
The Anatomy of Love The girl
Poverty and Nobility Gemma
The Gold of Naples Sofia
Attila Honoria
Too Bad She's Bad Lina Stroppiani
1955 The Sign of Venus Agnese Tirabassi
The Miller's Beautiful Wife Carmela
The River Girl Nives Mongolini
Scandal in Sorrento Donna Sofia
1956 Lucky to Be a Woman Antonietta Fallari
1957 Boy on a Dolphin Phaedra
The Pride and the Passion Juana
Legend of the Lost Dita
1958 Desire Under the Elms Anna Cabot
The Key Stella Based on the novel Stella by Jan de Hartog
The Black Orchid Rose Bianco
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
The Millionairess Epifania Parerga
A Breath of Scandal Princess Olympia
Two Women Cesira Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
NYFCC Award for Best Actress
Best Actress Award

1961 El Cid Jimena
1962 Boccaccio '70 Zoe
Madame Sans-Gêne Catherine Hubscher aka Madame Sans-Gêne
The Condemned of Altona Johanna
Five Miles to Midnight Lisa Macklin
1963 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Adelina Sbaratti/Anna Molteni/Mara
1964 The Fall of the Roman Empire Lucilla
Marriage Italian-Style Filumena Marturano Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1965 Operation Crossbow Nora
Lady L Lady Louise Lendale/Lady L
1966 Judith Judith
Arabesque Yasmin Azir
1967 A Countess from Hong Kong Natascha
More Than a Miracle Isabella Candeloro
1968 Ghosts - Italian Style Maria Lojacono
1970 I Girasoli (Sunflower) Giovanna
1971 Lady Liberty Maddalena Ciarrapico
The Priest's Wife Valeria Billi
1972 The Sin Hermana Germana
Man of La Mancha Aldonza/Dulcinea
1974 The Voyage Adriana de Mauro
Verdict Teresa Leoni
Brief Encounter Anna Jesson
1975 Sex Pot Pupa
1976 The Cassandra Crossing Jennifer Rispoli Chamberlain
1977 A Special Day Antoinette
1978 Angela Angela Kincaid
Blood Feud Titina Paterno
Brass Target Mara
1979 Firepower Adele Tasca
1980 Sophia Loren: Her Own Story Herself/Romilda Villani
1984 Aurora by Night Aurora
1986 Courage Marianna Miraldo
1988 Running Away Cesira
The Fortunate Pilgrim Lucia
1990 Saturday, Sunday and Monday Rosa Priore
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Isabella de la Fontaine National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1995 Grumpier Old Men Maria Sophia Coletta Ragetti
1997 Soleil Maman Lévy
2001 Francesca and Nunziata Francesca Montorsi
2002 Between Strangers Olivia
2004 Lives of the Saints Teresa Innocente
Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed Peppers Maria
2009 Nine Guido's Mother Post-production
2010 Femina unknown Pre-production


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