Loren, Sophia

Loren, Sophia
orig. Sofia Villani Scicolone

born Sept. 20, 1934, Rome, Italy

Italian film actress.

After a poverty-stricken childhood in war-torn Naples, she became a model and movie extra in Rome. Coached by the producer Carlo Ponti (later her husband), she acted in Italian movies from 1950, including The Gold of Naples (1954). Her later films, in which she became noted for her statuesque beauty and earthy femininity, include The Black Orchid (1959), El Cid (1961), Two Women (1961, Academy Award), Boccaccio '70 (1962), Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1964), Marriage Italian Style (1964), and A Special Day (1977).

Sophia Loren in Boccaccio '70 (1962).

Brown Brothers

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▪ Italian actress
original name  Sofia Villani Scicolone 
born September 20, 1934, Rome, Italy

      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, Sofia Scicolone changed her name to Sofia Lazzaro for work 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), Sofia 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 (Tebaldi, Renata) in the title role.

      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 (De Sica, Vittorio) 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 Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Alan Ladd, William Holden, and Paul Newman. Such exposure was undoubtedly instrumental in helping her win an 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.

 Two other De Sica films showcased her comic talents and paired her with another Italian film icon, Marcello Mastroianni: Ieri, oggi, domani (1963; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), a film that earned an Oscar for best foreign film; and Matrimonio all'italiana (1964; Marriage, Italian Style). The best performance of her late career, again with Mastroianni, was for director Ettore Scola in Una giornata particolare (1977, A Special Day). International recognition for Loren's distinguished acting career includes a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1991 and a career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival in 1998. She also made headlines in the 1990s for her strong defense of animal rights.

Additional Reading
Warren G. Harris, Sophia Loren: A Biography (1998).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Loren, Sophia — (1934 ) (Born Sofia Villani Scicolone.)    Actress. The most nationally celebrated and internationally renowned Italian actress of the postwar period, Loren was born illegitimately in Rome and grew up in one of the poorer quarters of Naples,… …   Historical dictionary of Italian cinema

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  • Sophia — [sō fē′ə, sōfī′ə] n. 〚< Gr sophia, skill, wisdom < sophos, wise〛 a feminine name: dim. Sophie, Sophy * * * I Russian Sofya Alekseyevna born Sept. 27, 1657, Moscow, Russia died July 14, 1704, Moscow Regent …   Universalium

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