Career HighlightsIn 1957, Loren starred in her first Hollywood film, The Pride and the Passion, filmed in Paris and costarring Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra.
At the same time, she became enmeshed in a love triangle when both Grant and an Italian film producer named Carlo Ponti declared their love for her. Although she had a schoolgirl's crush on Grant, Loren ultimately chose Ponti, a man the media joked was twice her age and half her height.
Even though they married in 1957, complications regarding the annulment of Ponti's first marriage prevented their union from being officially legally recognized in Italy for another decade. Loren and Ponti's marriage nevertheless remains one of the rare, heartwarming success stories among celebrity relationships. They remained happily married for 50 years until Ponti's death in 2007. According to Loren, the secret to their relationship was maintaining a low profile despite their celebrity status. "Show business is what we do, not what we are," she said.
In 1960, Sophia Loren turned in the most acclaimed performance of her career in the Italian World War II film Two Women.
In a film with parallels to her own childhood, Loren played a mother desperately trying to provide for her daughter in war-ravaged Rome. The film transformed Loren into an international celebrity, winning her the 1961 Academy Award for Best Lead Actress. She was the first actress ever to win the award for a non-English-language film.
Throughout the 1960s, Loren continued to star in Italian, American and French films, cementing her status as one of the great international movie stars of her generation. Her most notable 1960s performances include Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Marriage, Italian Style (1964), for which she earned another Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), costarring Marlon Brando.
Other VenturesSophia Loren moved back to her native Italy during the 1970s and spent most of the decade making highly popular Italian films. She had given birth to two sons, Hubert (born 1968) and Eduardo (born 1969), and during the 1980s she backed off her intense filming schedule to spend more time raising her teenaged children.
Loren also expanded into other business ventures. In 1981, she became the first female celebrity to release her own perfume, following up with a personal eyewear line shortly thereafter. Loren published a book, Women and Beauty, in 1994. She continues to act and appear frequently in public as one of the film industry's greatest living legends. Some of her more popular and acclaimed later films include Prêt-à-Porter (1994), Grumpier Old Men (1995) and Nine (2009).
Later YearsAt 76 years of age, Loren retains her youthful energy and age-defying hourglass physique.
She still can be seen strutting down the red carpet into award shows, looking fabulous in high heels and low-cut dresses that women several decades her junior would be happy to pull off. However, after more than 100 films and five decades in the spotlight, Loren remains true to her humble Italian roots.
Perhaps the best evidence of this is the fact that as an actress Loren has always delivered her best and most acclaimed performances playing salt-of-earth women, not bombshell heroines. As one director recently said, "Sophia is perhaps the only movie star who has never forgotten where she came from."
Now a resident of Geneva, Switzerland, Loren continues to see the world as a place full of beauty: "I always wake up early and jump out of bed—sometimes not wanting to, because one can always find an alibi not to exercise—and then I take a walk for an hour. And as I walk round the park I always think, 'Maybe round the corner I am going to find something beautiful.' I always think positively. It is very rare that you find me in a mood that is sad or melancholic."