Born in a charity ward for unwed mothers in Rome on September 20, 1934, Sofia Scicolone was taunted throughout her childhood for being illegitimate.Her mother, Romilda Villani, was a proud beauty who returned to her family home in Pozzuoli to live down her shame; in Catholic Italy then, being an unwed mother was not just a scandal, but a sin.Al [Pacino] asked the photographer if he could take his picture over again, so he could be seen smiling in one of them.” James L.Brooks wrote in Champa’s guest book, “I always knew she was beautiful.One wonders, for example, how she was able to resist Cary Grant’s proposal of marriage, when the two starred in in 1957, and instead choose her mentor and protector, the producer Carlo Ponti, 22 years her senior, four inches shorter than she, and still married to his first wife.One also wonders why Sophia, long revered by many as the patroness, if not the face, of Italy, has lived mainly in Geneva, Switzerland, for the past 43 years, like a queen in exile.They moved in with Romilda’s parents, an aunt, and two uncles; Romilda soon had another child with Riccardo Scicolone, who still refused to marry her and who would not even give Sophia’s younger sister, Maria, his name. Until she left Pozzuoli, Sophia never slept in a bed with fewer than three family members.By 1942 they were starving, living on rationed bread, hiding from the air raids at night in a dark, rat-infested train tunnel, full of “sickness, laughter, drunkenness, death, and childbirth,” as she described it in A. Hotchner’s 1979 authorized biography of her, Romilda foraged for food for herself and her two daughters, but Sophia was so skinny her school-mates called her “Sofia Stuzzicadenti”—toothpick.
Who else inspires the whole range of feminine charms, from sex to motherhood?
“When you make a dinner party for Sophia Loren, you either have to have some very strong women or strong, beautiful men,” says Champa.
“So this time I invited mostly men,” including Al Pacino; John Travolta; Warren Beatty; James Caan; Andy Garcia; the writer-directors Michael Mann and James L.
Who does not dream of falling asleep in a magical moment on Sophia’s breast?
”For someone who has been as famous as Sophia Loren for six decades, there still remains an aura of mystery about her.In a rare interview, Loren tells Sam Kashner about growing up illegitimate, choosing between co-star Cary Grant and producer Carlo Ponti, and drawing on brutal experience to earn her 1962 best-actress Oscar.