September 20, 1934– Sophia Loren is Italy’s Cinema Icon, an eternal Diva, & I wish to nominate her to the status of Gay Icon. Loren’s exciting life has taken her from being a street urchin to becoming one of the planet’s most glamorous film stars. She had the pleasure of enjoying the special company of Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, & Richard Burton, along with her Italian soul mate Marcello Mastroianni.

Loren’s story plays just like an Italian film, with her extraordinary rise to stardom as a poor teenager discovered by a rich & famous film producer who later marries her & helps make her Italy’s greatest export after pasta.

She was born in Roma as Sofia Scicolone, later changed the spelling of her first name to “ph” & adopting the stage name Loren. She was the daughter of a failed performer whose lover, Sophia’s father, refused to marry her.

She grew up poor in Pozzuoli, near Naples. Her mother eventually took her back to Rome, where Loren earned a small income for both of them by modeling for pulp magazines & winning prizes in beauty pagents. At one contest in the early 1950s, she was spotted by producer Carlo Ponti, who found her the first screen roles & devoted the rest of his own life to her career. Loren & Ponti were married for 5 decades, until his passing in 2007 at 94 years old.

Loren had no formal acting training. Pushed by her mother, her fabulous career began as a fluke when she met director Vittorio De Sica & told him she had never been offered a job after going on hundreds of auditions. Loren:

“I said to him, every time I am auditioning, people never hire me because I’m shy. They think my mouth is too wide, nose too long, there’s something wrong with my face. He told me he didn’t want me to audition, this conversation was just fine. I didn’t know what to say to this wonderful man. I nearly fainted on the spot.”

She made The Gold Of Naples (1954) with De Sica & it became her big break as an actor. The same year she did a comedy Eccato Che Sia Una Canaglia (Too Bad She’s Bad), the first of many films which Loren made with her perfectly matched star, Mastroianni. She immediately found steady work & made many films, including Boy On A Dolphin (1957) with Alan Ladd, Legend Of The Lost (1957) with John Wayne, & The Pride & The Passion (1957) with Grant & Sinatra.

“I have never been beautiful. I’ve never been a beautiful doll. In fact when I started, people didn’t want to hire me because I wasn’t photogenic.”

Loren’s stardom became truly international when she was given a contract with Paramount Pictures in 1958. For the studio she made the screen version of Eugene O’Neill’s drama Desire Under The Elms (1958) with gay actor Anthony Perkins, the sweet comedy Houseboat (1958) opposite Grant, & appeared as a blond in gay director George Cukor‘s unlikely western Heller In Pink Tights (1960).

“I didn’t change my face at all. They just got better at photographing it.”

Loren has starred in 100 films, so far, in several languages, projects of every genre: comedies, historical dramas, even musicals, including the thriller Arabesque (1966), Robert Altman’s romp Prêt-a-Porter (1994) & the delicious Matrimonio All’Italiana (1964) for De Sica.

Loren worked with the best of leading men: Sinatra, Grant, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Clark Gable, Paul Newman, & with Marlon Brando in Charlie Chaplin‘s final film, A Countess From Hong Kong (1967).

Most significantly, Loren starred in De Sica’s Two Women (1960) a stark, gritty story of a mother who is trying to protect her daughter in war ravaged WW 2 Italy. The pair are gang-raped inside a church as they travel back to their home city following the end of the bombing. Originally cast as the daughter, Loren fought against type to be cast as the mother. Loren won Cannes Film Festival‘s Best Performance award & an Oscar for Best Actress, the first for a non-English language performance & the first for an Italian. She skipped the ceremony because she was too nervous & discovered she had won via telephone by Cary Grant.

Loren has won a Grammy Award, 5 Golden Globes (so to speak), a BAFTA Award & a special honorary Academy Award for her contribution to World Cinema in 1991. In 1995, she received the Academy’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Her most recent role was as the only character in La Voce Umana (2014), from a 1930 play by gay writer Jean Cocteau  & directed by her handsome son Edoardo Ponti, a noted stage director. Her other yummy son Carlo Ponti Jr. is a famous orchestra conductor.

“I’m starting to count the hours, count the seconds; everything is important when you reach my age. Every so often you have to explode back into life.”

In 1992, Loren famously spent 17 days in an Italian jail as part of a plea bargain over a failure to file an income-tax return. At the time, she blamed it all on her accountant.

Loren is still ravishingly beautiful. She resides in Geneva & Roma.

“Beauty is not important. You have to be interesting, someone who is different to other people. Otherwise you just turn up & look beautiful, & there’s nothing more to you.”

Last year she published a well written, juicy memoir For Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: My Life.

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