¨There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and lives of people you have. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age¨. Sophia Loren
Sofia Villani Scicolone, popularly by her screen name Sophia Loren, is an Italian film star. Counted amongst the most beautiful and talented actresses to have ruled the cinema world, she was a major star from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Born to an unwed mother, she had a difficult childhood. Being an illegitimate child meant no father figure and extreme poverty in the first 15 years of her life. Aptly nicknamed ‘little stick’, she was shy, ugly and lean as a child, and little did she know that one day she would become a sex symbol in the entire US and Europe.
Her fortune changed when at the age of 15 she was spotted by a producer, her future husband, in a beauty pageant. From there on she went from being an unknown face to a Hollywood star and in no time garnered a huge following of admirers. Several prestigious awards certify that she was not just a pretty face but a complete and true actress.
“After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”
In 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.
“You have to enjoy life. Always be surrounded by people that you like, people who have a nice conversation. There are so many positive things to think about.”
Loren, being 84, 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.
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.”