Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sophia Loren

Born Sophia Villani Scicolone on September 20,1934 at the Clinica Regina Margherita, Ms. Loren was the daughter of Romilda Villlani, a piano teacher and aspiring actress and Riccardo Scicolone, a married construction engineer. Her father would never marry her mother but they went on to have another daughter, Anna Maria Villani Scicolone in 1938. Without support of any kind from her father Ms. Loren's mother moved herself and her daughters to Pozzuoli, Italy,near Naples, to live with Ms. Loren's grandmother.

  During WWII Pozzouli's harbor and munitions plant were bombed frequently by the Allies.While running to an air raid shelter Ms. Loren was struck by shrapnel on her chin. After this happened the family moved to Naples.

 After the war ended the family moved back to Pozzouli. At this time Ms. Lore's grandmother opened a pub in the family living room, selling homemade cherry liquor. Romilda Villani played the piano, while Ms. Loren and her sister waited on tables and washed dishes. The pub was a very popular place with American GI's stationed nearby.

 Even though Ms. Loren had a rough early life, by the time she was 14 she had entered a beauty contest in Naples and was a finalist in the pageant. It was here that she caught the eye of Carlo Ponti, an Italian film producer, some 22 years her senior. Under Ponti's guidance, Ms. Loren enrolled in acting classes and was soon playing bit parts in many movies per year. Including Mervyn Leroy's 1951 film "Quo Vadis"

Other film Ms. Loren appeared in was the 1952 movie " La Favorita" under the credited name "Sofia Lazzaro". In 1952 a friend of Carlo Ponti, Goffredo Lombardo, head of production of the Italian film production company,Titanus, changed her name from Lazzaro to Loren. Her first starring role was in the 1953 movie "Aida", which brought Ms. Loren critical acclaim. After playing the leading role in "Two Nights With Cleopatra",also in 1953, she appeared in what would become her breakout role as "Sofia" in the 1954 film "The Gold of Naples", directed by Vittorio De Sica. "Too Bad She's Bad", also released in 1954, became the first of many films in which she acted with Marcello Mastroianni. The first movie that gave Ms. Loren success beyond her native Italy was"La Donna del Fiume" it was released in America as "The River Girl". Because of this she was able to make her U.S. film debut in "Pride and Passion" in 1957 with Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. Other movies she made in1957 were "Boy On a Dolphin" with Alan Ladd and the movie "Legend Of the Lost" with John Wayne. While amidst all of her movies Ms. Loren married Carlo Ponti on September 17,1957 by proxy after his Mexican divorce from his first wife, that Italian officials deemed illegal because Italy did not recognize divorce at the time. In order to escape bigamy charges the couple had their marriage annulled in 1962. In 1965 Ponti was able to obtain a divorce from his first wife in France, allowing him to marry Ms. Loren on April 9, 1966. They later became french citizens the French president, Georges Pompidu, approved the couple's application for citizenship.

 With a five picture contract with Paramount Pictures in 1958 Ms. Loren became an international film star.  Starting with the 1958 movie "Houseboat" in which she appeared for  second time with Cary Grant. The movie's original script was written by Grant's wife, Betsy Drake and she was originally intended to co-star with Cary Grant in it. Instead, he began an affair with Ms. Loren while filming "Pride and the Passion" arranging for Ms. Loren to take Ms. Drake's place in "Houseboat" with a rewritten script, for which Ms. Drake didn't receive credit for. This of course led to Grant and his wife's separation. But his affair with Ms. Loren ended in bitterness while making "Pride and the Passion" ,which in turn caused problems on the set of "Houseboat". Cary Grant had hoped to resume his relationship with Ms. Loren but she instead married Carlo Ponti.

In 1960 she appeared on screen as a blonde for the first time in George Cukor's film, "Heller In Pink Tights". Also in 1960 came her Academy Award winning role in Italian director Vittorio De Sica movie "Two Women", in which she plays a widowed mother who tries to take her daughter and herself to safety from the Allied bombing of Rome to the mother's hometown of Ciociaria, a rural, mountainous province in central Italy. They make it to the mother's hometown where Ms. Loren's character,Cesira, comes to the attention of a you intellectual with communist sympathies. Unfortunately, he is captured by German soldiers who want to use him to get through the mountains. Meanwhile,Italy is liberated and Cesira decides that her daughter and she should return home to Rome, which is tial of survival, dignity and sanity, for even though they were harassed during the fighting for Italy both Cesira and her daughter are gang raped by Moroccan soldiers fighting in the Free French army, inside a bombed out church in which the two women had come seeking refuge. Her daughter, Rosetta, is severely traumatized and not knowing whether she can trust her mother to keep her safe.They accept a ride from a man, who he takes to his village and his mother's home for Cesira and Rosetta to stay. It is here that Rosetta decides to go to a dance with the man, who seems to be a pedophile because he has a 15 year old girlfriend and that same night that Cesira receives the news that her intellectual friend has been shot and killed by the Nazi soldiers. When her daughter finally decides to come home at dawn, Cesira yells at her about being gone and spanks her. She then tearfully apologizes to her daughter about not being able to protect her as much as they would have both liked and then she  tells Rosetta of the death of their friend... which seems to reestablish their mother-daughter bond.

In 1963 Sophia Loren appeared in another of her iconic movie, the 1963 movie "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. This was a comedy anthology film that was directed by Vittorio de Sica and co-starred Marcello Mastroianni . Mastroianni and Loren were one of the most enduring and successful screen couple in film history, appearing in 14 movies in over 20 years.

In 1964, Ms. Loren's career reached it's zenith when she received $1 million to act in "The Fall of the Roman Empire". In 1965 she received her second Academy Award nomination for her performance in "Marriage Italian-Style". This is another movie in which Ms. Loren was directed by Vittorio De Sica and co-starred Marcello Mastroianni.

 Sophia Loren Received four Golden Globe Awards between 1964 to 1977 as "World Film Favorite - Female".

1977 Golden Globes

 After years of trying to have children Ms. Loren she became pregnant in the Spring of 1968 and in December of 1968 Carlo Ponti, Jr. was born. His brother, Edoardo Ponti, was born in January of 1973. Now that she had her family, Ms. Loren worked less so she could concentrate on being a mother. Most of her acting during the next twenty years was in Italian features.

In the 1970's she was paired with Richard Burton in the last De Sica film 1974's "The Voyage" and a remake of the 1945 British film, "Brief Encounter". The film its premiere on U.S. television on November 12,1974 on NBC as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series. In 1976 Ms. Loren starred in the disaster movie, "The Cassandra Crossing" which also veteran stars Ava Gardner, Martin Sheen and Richard Harris. In 1977 she made the Italian movie "A Special Day" that was directed by Ettore Scola and her favorite co-star Marcello Mastroianni. The film tells the story of a housewife and her neighbor who stay home in Rome the day Hitler visits Mussolini. For this movie Ms. Loren was nominated for several awards.She then starred in a couple of thrillers. "Brass Target" (1978) which is based on the Frederick Nolan Novel "The Algonquin Project" that deals with General George S. Patton's fatal automobile accident. Suggesting that it was not an accident but a conspiracy. Plus she appeared in the 1979 move "Firepower. Both movies had moderate success.

In 1980 Ms. Loren portrayed her own mother, as well as herself in the television biopic adaptation of her autobiography "Sophia Loren: Her Own Story".  in 1981 she became the first female celebrity to have her own perfume, Sophia. This was followed by her own line of eyewear. In 1982 she made headlines when she served an 18 day prison sentence for tax evasion and this did nothing to hurt her popularity or her career.

Through out the 1990's and 2000's Ms. Loren has been selective about her film work and has ventured into various areas of business including': jewelry,cook books, eyeware and perfume.  In 1991 Ms. Loren received the Academy Honorary Award for her contributions to the world of cinema and was declared "one of the cinema world's treasures". Ms. Loren presented Federico Fellini, in 1993, with his Honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in recognition of his cinematic accomplishments that have thrilled and entertained audiences worldwide.

  In 1994 she received a Golden Globe nomination for her part in Robert Altman's film " Pret-a-Porter" (Ready to Wear). In which she re-created her famous slightly strip scene from "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" Ms. Loren received the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1995. Also in 1995 she acted with Walter Mathau and Jack Lemmon  in "Grumpier Old Men".

  Ms. Loren received a Special Grand Prix of the Americas Award in Montreal World Film Festival for her body of work, in 2001. During this time she made two movies in Canada : "Between Strangers" an independent film that was directed by her youngest son, Edoardo, and the television miniseries " Lives of the Saints" in 2004.

 On January 10,2007 her beloved husband, Carlo Ponti, died of pulmonary complications.

Also in 2007 she appeared in that year's Pirelli Calendar at the age of 72.

After 14 years absence from the prominent  American film theater and five years off the set,Ms. Loren appeared in American director, Robert Marshall's movie version of the Broadway musical "Nine". It tells the story of an Italian director whose midlife crisis cause him to struggle to complete his latest film; he is forced to balance the influences of a number of formative women in his life, including his dead mother. Ms. Loren was the only one Rob Marshall considered for the role of "Mother".

 In 2010 Ms. Loren portrayed her own mother in a two part Italian miniseries about her early life, entitled "La Mia Casa E Piena di Specchi" translated "My House Full of Mirrors". It was directed by Vittorio Sindoni and was based on her sister Maria's memoir.

1 comment:

Stella Smith said...

Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam are the best to play role.. no second thoughts, that's for sure!!
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