Sophia Lauren photograph featured in Vogue
Before there was Sophia Loren, there was Sofia Villani Scicolone. Born in Rome at a charity ward for unwed mothers, Loren was raised in extreme poverty by an aspiring actress who looked exactly like Greta Garbo. After she won “Miss Elegance” at the 1950 Miss Italia pageant, however, it didn’t take long for filmmakers to notice Loren’s own otherworldly beauty. By 1953 she had already landed her first starring role in Aida and been taken under the wing of Italian super-producer—and Loren’s future husband—Carlo Ponti.
The most-photographed guest at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, Loren became an even bigger star in the latter 1950s. After 1957’s The Pride and the Passion and 1958’s Houseboat—both starring Cary Grant—played up her looks without asking much else of her abilities, Loren’s harrowing turn in the 1960s Two Women made it clear to casting directors that one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood was also one of the most talented. In a film that recalled its star’s own troubled childhood, Loren played a mother struggling to provide for her 12-year-old daughter in war-torn Italy. She became the first actor to win an Academy Award for a performance in a foreign-language film.
Loren has been largely absent from screens since the early ’80s, eschewing her film career to focus on raising her two children with Ponti. But on the rare occasion that she chooses to grace a screen with her presence these days—be it a one-scene cameo in Nine or her starring turn in The Life Ahead, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti—Loren still radiates undeniable star power.
In honor of Loren’s 87th birthday, Vogue compiled a photographic tribute to the film and beauty icon.
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