Sophia’s first major role (and first award) was in “Two Women,” a film dealing with the grim life of people during World War II. It is considered as one of the best films ever made by Sophia Loren, and it won her, among many awards, an Oscar as Best Actress.
In 1960 she became a worldwide celebrity due to two important events: Elio Petri’s “These Days” and Billy Wilder’s “Two for the Road.” Sophia Loren was considered at that time as one of the most beautiful women in the world, together with such superstars as Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor. Her beauty is still present, but it could be said that she looks too mature to play a young woman.
Sophia Loren is an Italian. Her birth name was Sofia Scicolone. Even though she has made films in many countries, most of the films that established Sophia’s reputation were made in Italy or with Italian directors. She never became a Hollywood star because her beauty did not fit some of Hollywood’s demands for leading actresses.
It is true that Sophia has an unusual beauty, but it is the kind of beauty that is appreciated more in Italy than elsewhere. One critic wrote that she looks like a 50-year-old woman trying to look like a 25-year-old woman.
Sophia Loren was born in 1934 in Rome. She began her career as a film actress when she was 14 years old. She became popular with Italian youth when she was in her late teens. A scandal kept her out of the movies for two years after she had married the son of one of Italy’s Mafia bosses.
When she made a comeback, it was in “Two Women,” which included a nude scene where Sophia showed herself to be young and attractive. The movie made her an international celebrity. For many years, she was the world’s most famous woman among film audiences, but that situation has changed now that teenagers are more interested in stars like Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone.
Some other of Sophia Loren’s films are “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (1963) with Marcello Mastroianni, the directorial debut of Franco Zeffirelli; “Marriage Italian Style” (1964); “Sunflower” (1970), where Sophia Loren plays a woman who becomes infatuated with an old man after she falls in love with his young son; and “La Stanza Del Figlio” (2001) where Sophia played the role of a widow who tries to make up for lost time with her son.
Six David di Donatello Awards
In 1961 Sophia Loren received a David di Donatello award for Best Actress for her role in The Adventure. In 1964 she was nominated as Best Actress for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963). In 1967 she went back to the David awards as Best Actress of the year, again for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; and in 1971, she won the sixth David as Best Actress of the year for Marriage Italian Style.
In 1990 Sophia Loren received a Nastro d’argento Award as Best Actress, by an Italian Film, for her role in Grumpier Old Men (1995). In 1995 she was nominated to a seventh David as Best Actress of the year for Sunflower (1970) but lost it to Sofia Loren at the age of 70. Except for that last award, all others were given when Sophia Loren was still making films regularly, and thus these awards were not bestowed prematurely.
Academy Award for Best Actress
Sophia Loren has never won an Oscar. She was given an Honorary Academy Award in 1991, but that is not the same thing as winning for Best Actress. Sophia has been nominated six times for an award as “Best Actress of the Year” at the Academy Awards: in 1965 for Marriage Italian Style, 1969 for Sunflower, 1971 for Marriage Italian Style, 1985 for The Pride and the Passion (1957), 1991 for Grumpier Old Men (1995) and in 2010, as an 83-year old woman, she was nominated as Best Actress of the Year for her role as a mother who poisons her son in Nine (2009).
Married the Same Man Twice
Sophia Loren had two husbands. Her first husband was Carlo Ponti, who died in 2007 at the age of 94. Sophia and Carlo married on 14 September 1957 and stayed married until his death 51 years later. They had one child together who is now a famous Italian singer under the name of Eros Ramazzotti. Sophia’s second husband was producer, director, and writer, Robert Wolders. They were married for seven years (from 30 April 1981 until 22 February 1988).
Sophia Loren is still alive today (at the age of 84), and she has long ago left acting to become a “First Lady” in Italy. She has one son by Carlo Ponti and a daughter by Robert Wolders.
30-day Custodial Sentence
Sophia Loren was convicted of tax evasion in 1982, but she did not go to jail. Instead, she spent 30 days under house arrest. The Italian courts accused her of having deposited $3,400,000 in a Swiss bank account instead of paying the 55% income tax (long before that kind of percentage had been reduced). She was also accused of failing to declare $1,500,000 in earnings for the 1974 movie Sunflower.
The money would be paid to her if she did not make any other movie before 1981. However, she made another movie called Onassis, which raised the money tax-free. Sophia Loren called this accusation “a monstrous outrage” and sued the Italian government for $10,000,000 because of the damages she suffered.
In 1989 her suit was dismissed by a jury in Milan which found that she did owe taxes but did not deserve to be fined because of a lack of criminal intent. Today Sophia can look back at having been acquitted twice on this charge: once at the trial level in 1984 and once on appeal in 1985.
Cancer at the Age of 43
On June 20, 1962, Sophia Loren went into a Rome hospital for her first cancer operation (a mastectomy). She was only 43 years old at that time. The tissue removed from her breast showed an advanced case of cancer which had already spread to the lymphatic system.
The second cancer operation (removal of four ribs) was done in New York under controversial circumstances. The major tumor which was found on her left breast led to the removal of both breasts and most of her lymph nodes. Sophia Loren survived pneumonia when she was only eight years old. She continues to remain healthy.