If there is a top ten of all-time pin-up actresses, Sophia Loren must be in it. The Italian-born statuesque beauty with a smouldering gaze began her career by winning a beauty pageant at the age of 16. By 17 she had filmed her first of many movies, but this time only as an extra (1951’s Quo Vadis.)
But shortly, within just three years time, Sophia had starred in 10 feature films, all as the movie’s leading lady. Her looks captured the hearts of men, but Loren also displayed a strong acting ability, especially in the part of 1955’s The Gold of Naples.
Sophia Loren’s allure was an equal mixture of elegance and lust. Her sex appeal was at command if she wore a tailored evening gown, a playful sundress to frolic in the warm Italian sun, or standing in a see-through negligee at the precipice of a woman’s bedroom.
As a prominent sex symbol of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Loren found her fame spreading internationally. She signed a five-movie contract with Paramount Pictures and was soon cast opposite Cary Grant in Houseboat, a well-remembered comedy.
Just before coming to America and Hollywood, Sophia played the role of a mother trying to protect her 12-year-old daughter in Two Women (1960). The movie producers wanted to cast the then 25-year-old Sophia as the daughter, but the serious actress in her would have none of that. She lobbied for and won the part of the mother. The drama won top prize at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and also a Best Actress Oscar for Loren. She had earned both the respect and the desire of the public.
Sophia Loren also lent her beauty to numerous magazine photo shoots, as well as posing for merchandise and brands (especially in her native Italy.)
In 1950 Sophia met and fell in love with Carlo Ponti, an Italian film composer. There was a 21-year age difference between the 16-year-old Sophia and 37-year-old Carlo. They wed seven years later, but had to have their marriage annulled in 1962 when the court learned Ponti had not made official his divorce from a first wife. Once that mistake had been taken care of, the two wed again in 1966. They remained together until the death of Ponti in 2007.
There have been tales told of affairs that Sophia had with other men. Some have more evidence than others, but even so, she remained a married woman through the decades.