Sophia Loren

Coming Saturday September 20th, it is eighty years ago Sophia Loren, one of the most iconic Italian movie stars and divas, was born.

Little Sophia did not have an easy start in life. She was born as Sofia Villani Scicolone in a hospital in Rome, but the first days of her life she was known as ‘baby nr. 19’. Her parents were not married and the rules said the baby would have to be placed in an orphanage. A few days after the birth, her father came to the hospital and acknowledged her. Baby 19 was named Sofia, after her father’s mother.

Poverty and illness force her mother to go back to her hometown of Pozzuoli, near Naples, where her family and a wet-nurse could look after the child.

During her childhood other children bully Sofia because her mother is not married. She is also considered an ugly child, with a big nose and a weird mouth. But when she hits puberty, this changes, her body becomes curvaceous and her face grows into her nose and mouth, Sofia is a beauty now.

This is also just after WWII when American films could be seen all over Europe. Sofia loved these movies and her mother sees an opportunity. First she enters Sofia into a beauty contest (which she wins) and then she takes Sofia to Rome to get a part in a movie.

Sophia and Carlo
She gets some small roles, mostly as an extra, but at a certain point she is noticed bt Carlo Ponti, the driving force behind Gina Lollobrigida and he sees potential in Sofia. He changes her name to Sophia Loren, because it sounds more English and is easier to pronounce. He also lets her take lessons in English and makes sure she gets some good parts. Sophia becomes a star in Italy during the fifties.
She is also ready to take the step to Hollywood, where she plays in a movie with Cary Grant (who even asked her to marry him) and Frank Sinatra. This movie is a huge success. Slowly she also gets parts that do not only rely upon her curves, but on her acting and in 1960 she even gets an Oscar for the movie La ciociara, where she plays a mother during WWII, who has to protect her child against horrible events.

In the meantime Sophia and Carlo had fallen in love and they got married in Mexico. The problem was the Italian law did not recognize the divorce from his first wife, so they had to get a divorce and later remarried again in Paris. Together they had two sons.

Sophia Loren made some beautiful movies, many of them are considered classics. One of the best, I think, is Una giornata particolare, and I will write about that later this week.

Do you want to read more? That is possible, as many magazines did articles about Sophia Loren in the past months and probably coming weeks and months.

She herself wrote a cookbook and this week her autobiography Yesterday, today and tomorrow, my life will be published. That will be available in English translation in December 2014