Sofia Scicolone was born on September 20, 1934 in Rome, Italy. Her father was married to another woman at the time of her birth as well as the birth of her younger sister Maria. While in her difficult childhood during World War II, she developed the nickname “Toothpick” for her skinny legs. At 14, the film producer Carlo Ponti encouraged the beautiful Sofia to enroll in acting classes. She went under the name “Sofia Lazzaro” because people joked that she was so beautiful the her beauty could raise Lazzarus from the dead!
In 1957, Sophia married Carlo Ponti until 1962 when their marriage was annulled to save Carlo from bigamy charges. They re-married in 1966 and stayed married until Mr. Ponti’s death in 2007. They had two children together named Carlo Jr and Edoardo. Carlo gave Sophia a single rose every day of their marriage.
Sofia later changed her name to Sophia Loren and began staring in Italian movies. Her début into American cinema came in 1957 with Cary Grant in The Pride and the Passion. Ms. Loren earned an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Two Women in 1960 as a mother who endures a rape to save her daughter. It was her lack of vanity in this “ugly” role that made her a real star.
Sophia starred among Hollywood’s most famous leading men including Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, Paul Newman, and Charlton Heston. Her Italian movies were more popular than her American ones. Her well-known American credits include El Cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire, and Man of La Mancha. Her Italian hits include Marriage Italian Style and A Special Day.
Sophia earned an Honorary Academy Award for her work in 1991 and deemed “one of world cinema’s greatest treasures”. In 1995, she returned to United States’ screens in Grumpier Old Men. In 2009, she appeared in the musical Nine and proved that at 75, she was still as beautiful as ever.
“Sex appeal is 50% of what you’ve got
and 50% what people think you’ve got.”