Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti’s 70-year love story began when she was 16, but he had another family

Sophia Loren epitomizes the essence of a Hollywood movie star, embodying both beauty and the glamorous lifestyle associated with the industry.

Her journey to fame was a challenging one, having been born into a life of poverty. Even after achieving recognition, she faced criticism for her appearance. Nevertheless, today, she is celebrated as one of the most stunning women to have graced our screens, a status she maintains even at the age of 88.

It’s truly remarkable to consider that someone who began with such humble beginnings went on to become an inspiration in the world of music, turned down a marriage proposal from Cary Grant, and achieved the distinction of being the first actor to win an Oscar for a foreign-language film.

Sophia Loren’s mother, Sofia Villani Scicolone, was not without her own share of Hollywood allure. Born in 1934, she captured the attention of Hollywood with her striking beauty. Sophia’s mother once even won a competition for impersonating Greta Garbo, but her conservative family prevented her from pursuing a career in the film industry.

Instead, Sophia’s mother took on the role of instructing and guiding her child, nurturing her on the path to becoming a movie star.

Sophia’s father, who was also the father of her younger sister Maria, did not offer any support to her as she grew up. He did not marry her mother and remained uninvolved in family matters.

”I saw my father only six times in my life,” she mentioned. “He was a great of pain and humiliation for my mother, whom he seduced and abandoned, for my younger sister, Maria, who suffered terribly because he would not give her his name, and for myself.”

Being raised by a single mom was financially challenging.

Sophia Loren endured an upbringing marked by severe poverty, where she shared a bedroom with eight family members in her grandparents’ home and lived with various relatives. Conditions became so dire that at times, Loren’s mother resorted to taking water from the car radiator to provide for her daughters.

Her early years were also marred by the tumultuous backdrop of World War II. During an aerial raid, Sophia was struck by shrapnel and thrown to the ground, leaving her with a scar on her chin. Reflecting on those times, she once remarked, “I was a little girl, but the sound and the experiences of the war never, never leave you.”

Despite facing hardships like mites, lice, and bullying due to her thin frame during her youth, Sophia Loren transformed into the celebrated beauty we recognize today. After being a finalist in the Miss Italia 1950 beauty contest, she pursued her passion for acting by attending the National Film School in Italy.

Even as she started gaining recognition, she continued to endure criticism about her appearance, with people suggesting she needed to lose weight and remarking on her supposedly crooked nose. However, Loren remained steadfast in her belief that her nose was unique and beautiful, explaining, “It was an interesting nose, which is why I still have never changed it. Sometimes when you are very young, you have to wait for nature to shape you on the face or on the body. Then little by little, people see the nose was much nicer than they thought.”

At the age of 19, Sophia Loren landed her breakthrough role by portraying an Ethiopian slave in the movie “Aida,” a performance that garnered critical acclaim. Four years later, she co-starred alongside Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra in “The Pride and the Passion.” In 1960, she achieved one of the pinnacle moments of her career by winning an Oscar for her role in “Two Women,” where she portrayed a mother struggling to provide for her daughter in war-torn Rome.

Sophia Loren’s list of honors is extensive, including five additional Golden Globe awards for her exceptional performances, a Grammy Award, an Honorary Academy Award, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes for her lifetime achievements, among others.

In her personal life, despite rumors of relationships and bigamy, she maintained a 50-year marriage to Italian film producer Carlo Ponti until his passing in 2007. Their connection began when Sophia was just 16, and Carlo not only became her romantic partner but also her mentor, helping her become a household name in Italy before she turned 25.

Sophia Loren fondly recalled their initial meeting, saying, “It was love at first sight for both of us. We met at a beauty contest in Rome when I was 16, and he was on the jury. He saw me sitting at a table with friends and sent me a note asking me to join the contest.”

Sophia and Carlo tied the knot in 1957. However, their marriage faced legal challenges due to Carlo’s prior marriage, which was not recognized in Italy. This led to accusations of bigamy. Additionally, Carlo Ponti was 21 years older than Sophia, and at the time of their first marriage, he was already a husband from a previous marriage. Their love story was marked by both personal and legal complexities, but they managed to overcome these obstacles and maintain a lasting union.

As a consequence of the legal complexities surrounding their initial marriage, Sophia and Carlo’s union was annulled in 1962. The issue was eventually resolved when they married legally and became French citizens.

Subsequently, they welcomed two sons into their family: Eduardo, who became a filmmaker, and Carol Jr., who pursued a career as a conductor of orchestras. As of now, Sophia Loren is also a proud grandmother with four grandchildren.

Sophia Loren’s romantic history has often been a subject of media attention, including her decision to decline a marriage proposal from Cary Grant.

Throughout her life, she remained grounded and true to herself, prioritizing the creation of a stable family environment for her children, which was something she didn’t have in her own upbringing. She once stated, “My character is my best feature. I was really a nobody, a little girl, unhappy, in desperation because of the life I was living with my family and no father.”

While much of her personal life remains private, Sophia Loren has always been dedicated to her family and career. Even at the age of 88, she continues to act and remains committed to both her loved ones and her professional pursuits.

In 2020, Sophia Loren made a significant return to the screen after more than a decade. She portrayed Madam Rosa, a Holocaust survivor and former sex worker, in the American-Italian drama “The Life Ahead,” which was directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti.

Sophia tapped into her own experiences during World War II to bring truth and authenticity to the character of Madam Rosa. She remarked, “I [tapped] into my own experiences during the war and [found] Madame Rosa’s truth and honesty by uncovering my own.”

Beyond her illustrious acting career, Sophia Loren has also ventured into the realm of business. She has her name associated with two restaurants in Italy, one in Florence and one in Milan. The latter establishment opened its doors in 2022, with Sophia herself being present for the occasion.

On the restaurant’s website, Sophia is quoted as saying, “In my life, I have had many passions, one of them is undoubtedly food.” She humorously added, “No director has ever managed to put me on a diet, and I have never given up a good plate of pasta in favor of the figure.”