If you ask any woman who she dreams to look like at the age of 80, she would probably say Sophia Loren.
A real icon of cinema and style, the Academy Award-winning Italian actress will turn 80 on September 20, and she looks as stunningly beautiful as always.
On the same day, she will also present her autobiography, to be entitled “Ieri, Oggi, Domani” (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow), like the 1963 movie directed by Vittorio De Sica and starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. The decision to write her memoir didn’t come easily since, despite the international popularity and innate charm that always accompanied her, Sophia Loren’s personal life was marked by hardship and she had to fight hard to find happiness. While she seemed to easily achieve her career goals, having a legitimate family was for her the greatest challenge.
Sophia Loren was born in Pozzuoli, a small town near Naples, from a young and unwed mother, Romilda. Her last name was Scicolone, but she changed it in the classier and more international Loren. During the War, they lived in her grandparents’ overcrowded home, starving and fearing the bombing. When Romilda noticed that her daughter had grown into a rare beauty, she entered her in contests and auditions.
Sophia moved to Rome, where she started working as a model and actress, supporting her mother and little sister with her earnings. A dazzling teenager, she was noticed by film producer Carlo Ponti, who fell in love with her. They became lovers, but Ponti was 22-year older than her and married with children in times when divorce was illegal in Italy.
Despite their fame, for over a decade their being together was hindered and condemned by the Church of Rome and the Italian Law. Loren and Ponti finally got married in France in 1966, and soon after they moved to Geneva in Switzerland, where she still lives after her husband’s death in 2007. They had two sons: Carlo Jr., conductor of the LA Virtuosi Orchestra, and filmmaker Edoardo.
Carlo Ponti wasn’t only Sophia’s partner in life but also her manager. Under his guide, in 1954 she began a fruitful collaboration with director Vittorio De Sica in films like The Gold of Naples, and eventually landed in Hollywood, learning English very quickly with great determination. Among others, she performed in The Pride and Passion, featuring Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant, and in the heart-breaking Two Women. Produced by Carlo Ponti and directed by Vittorio De Sica, Two Women consecrated Sophia Loren as a talented movie star by earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1962. She was also the first artist to win the Oscar for a foreign-language performance.
Sophia Loren’s contribution to world’s cinema and to the Italian culture was acknowledged by several prizes and celebrated in festivals and events worldwide. Most recently, a special tribute was paid to her at the annual Festival del Sole in Napa Valley, with the participation of Whoopi Goldberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Robert Redford. More public appearances of the Italian screen goddess in the U.S. are expected in the next few months.
Happy birthday, Sophia!