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Today’s Memory – Sophia Loren

20 - Sophia-Loren-b.-1934

Sophia Loren

born 20 September 1934, Rome


Sofia Loren, born Sofia Villani Scicolone is an Italian film actress who rose above her poverty-stricken origins in postwar Naples to become universally recognized as one of Italy’s most beautiful women and its most famous movie star.

Before working in the cinema, she worked in the foto-romanzo, popular pulp magazines that used still photographs to depict romantic stories. Her first film role was as an extra, one of many slave girls in the American production of Quo Vadis? (1951). Under the tutelage of producer Carlo Ponti (her future husband), Scicolone was transformed into Sophia Loren. Her career was launched in a series of low-budget comedies before she attracted critical and popular attention with Aida (1953), in which she lip-synched the singing of Renata Tebaldi in the title role.

Aida 1953

Loren’s beauty often overshadowed her enormous talents as an actress, but her earthy charisma is evident even in such early works as Vittorio De Sica’s L’oro di Napoli (1954; The Gold of Naples). With Ponti’s help, Loren increased her international visibility by appearing in Hollywood films opposite such major stars as Frank Sinatra – The Pride and the Passion (1957),

The Pride and the Passion (1957)

Alan Ladd – Boy on a Dolphin (1957), William Holden – The Key (1958), Clark Gable – It Started in Naples (1960), Cary Grant – Houseboat (1968) and Paul Newman – Lady L (1965).

It Started in Naples (1960)

Such exposure was undoubtedly instrumental in helping her win an Academy Award (Oscar) for best actress in De Sica’s La ciociara (1961; Two Women), in which she delivered a powerful performance as the courageous mother of a teenage girl during World War II.

La ciociara / Two Women (1961)

Loren has also been awarded a Grammy Award, five special Golden Globes, a BAFTA Award, a Laurel Award as well as the Honorary Academy Award in 1991. In 1995 she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievements, one of many such awards.

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