The American Film Institute considers the Italian actress Sophia Loren to be one of the most important female stars to emerge from the Golden Age of Classical Hollywood Cinema.
Only one person, the late Italian film producer Carlo Ponti, was the only person the film industry veteran has ever been married to. The couple raised two boys, Edoardo and Carlo Jr., together after they first became parents.
Loren recalled the story of how she and Ponti met in the book titled “The Northeastern Dictionary of Women’s Biography,” sharing that they fell in love with one another at first sight:
“Both of us fell in love at first sight with each other. When I was 16 years old, we first connected in Rome at a beauty pageant where he was serving on the judging panel. He noticed that I was seated at a table with other people, so he wrote me a note asking me to participate in the competition.”
“I did, and I came in second place, but the most important thing was that this was how we first began to see each other; at first, it was just a casual acquaintanceship, but when I was 19, it turned into something more serious… We have a heartfelt affection for one another “She proceeded to elaborate further.
After some time, when Ponti, who was 22 years older than her, saw her competing in another beauty pageant, he arranged for her to have small parts in low-budget Italian productions. The film “The Gold of Naples” was the catalyst for Loren’s meteoric rise to prominence.
During that time, she started having an affair with Ponti, who at the time was married to his first wife Giuliana Fiastri and was already a father of two children. During this time, Ponti was also married to his first wife.
She was offered a role in the 1956 film “The Pride and the Passion” by an American production company, and she soon discovered that she had a strong attraction to her fellow co-star, Cary Grant.
At the age of 22, Loren had already begun a love relationship with Ponti, who would go on to become her future husband. On the other hand, Grant was already 52 years old and in his third marriage when he fell in love with her. During this time, he got obsessed with her.
When asked about that time in her life during an interview with The Sidney Morning Herald, Loren referred to it as a “strange” period because she found it difficult to move to the United States:
“Cary loved me and wanted me to marry him, but doing so would have meant breaking up with Carlo and causing a major controversy. I couldn’t do that.” I had a terrible fear of what the response would have been if I had left Italy, and it kept me up at night.
Despite this, she was able to make it to Hollywood for the very first time, this time with Ponti by her side. Despite the fact that Ponti was still married at the time, Loren was happy that leaving her home country gave her and the producer of “River Girl” the opportunity to live together. They had been involved in private for a period of three years.
In the following few months, Ponti had business obligations in both Los Angeles and Rome, so he commuted frequently between the two cities. This gave his lover the opportunity to begin seeing Grant once more.
The starlet asserted that she was unable to say no to Grant, despite the fact that he was 30 years her senior. She claimed that he would send her a bouquet of roses every day, as well as write personal letters to her and call her on the phone frequently.
Ray Walston, who played the role of Mac in the 1957 film “Kiss Them For Me,” disclosed that Loren “started showing up” at the studio in the evenings to watch the rushes, and that “you could tell she and Cary were fond of one another.”
The star of “Two Women” recalled that Grant encouraged them to pray together for guidance about whether or not to leave their respective partners in the first volume of her autobiography. She wrote:
You will be remembered in my prayers. If you think and pray with me about the same thing and for the same purpose, everything will be in order, and life will be good.
In contrast, she was on the verge of marrying Ponti, but she was about to face the greatest challenge of her life, which was going to have a significant impact on both her personal life and her professional life.
Despite this, Grant was head over heels in love with Loren, and he proposed to her by asking for her hand in marriage. But years later, in one of his letters, he expressed regret for having put so much pressure on her to get married, writing as follows:
“Forgive me, dear girl. I put too much pressure on you. Continue to pray, as I will also do, until the beginning of next week. I will miss you, Sophia. Cary.”
The play “The Pride and Passion” featured both of them in co-starring roles. Many people had the mistaken belief that Grant had proposed to her while they were filming the scene, but this was not the case.
During an interview with Radio Times, Loren set the record straight by stating that it would be physically impossible for the native English speaker to propose to her while they were working closely together on set.
However, despite his good looks and his success as an actor, Cary Grant never popped the question.
In addition, she stated that she was much too young to have any distinct views about love and relationships at the time that they occurred in her life. Because she selected Ponti, their relationship came to an end when filming for the movie did as well.
1966 saw the wedding of Loren and Ponti in France, and the couple stayed married until his passing in January of 2007. “Carlo was Italian, and he was a part of my world, but Cary Grant did not belong to my world. “I have no doubt that it was the best decision for me to make,” she added.
In spite of the fact that she wound up marrying Ponti, their union was not without its share of struggles and difficulties. The law was thrown into disarray as a result of their union, which led to a prosecution for bigamy.
Because of this, the couple found it difficult to react to questions regarding their marital status, and Loren revealed that the fact that they were forced to discuss it caused them both discomfort:
“My husband, that is, my ex-husband, I mean my fiancé, I mean my fiance… well, you know Carlos – and I don’t want to address this topic because it only bothers the both of us,” she said.
At the time, the attorneys for the defendants in the bigamy trial of twice-married Ponti and once-married Loren had promised the long-awaited verdict in the case. Even though they risked anything from one to five years in prison, they had no intention of showing up to their trial. They had also skipped their wedding, which was held in Juarez, Mexico.
However, the couple’s native country did not recognize their marriage as legitimate. Because Ponti was still married at the time of their wedding, going through with the ceremony was regarded as illegal and would have resulted in bigamy had it taken place.
The wedding was deemed null and void due to the absence of witnesses, and the couple was unable to engage in bigamy because the ceremony did not constitute a legally enforceable contract.
Another aspect was the fact that Ponti’s divorce from his first wife was not recognized in Italy, despite the fact that it was legal in Mexico. Fiastri, who married Ponti in 1946, not only filed the bigamy charges against him, but she also made an adamant request to the courts that they do not continue with the bigamy prosecution. However, they did wind up getting a divorce in the end.
During this time, Loren, who had served time in prison for tax evasion, expressed her desire to become a mother and revealed that the desire first surfaced when she was 29 years old. She was acting in a movie that was being shot in Naples when she began to experience the symptoms of pregnancy. The movie was about a mother who had seven children.
She chose to overlook the symptoms, explaining her behavior by saying, “I was playing a mother and associating so deeply with my role.” She went to the doctor, and the results of the tests that were performed on her came back negative.
It had not been too long since Loren had realized her dream of becoming pregnant, and at this point, she was happy and happier than she had ever been before. However, this was only the beginning of her problems. She went on to say that the days that followed were some of the most depressing and hopeless of her life.
The star of “Houseboat” could see that something was wrong, so she made the decision to visit a doctor, who reassured her and recommended that she avoid traveling by car.
She eventually traveled to Milan by train for the subsequent location of her film, but unfortunately, her first scene was filmed in an entire stage car that was mounted on a hydraulic arm to simulate the motion of the bumps. According to Loren, the experience was considerably more frustrating than driving an actual car.
During her first night in Milan, she experienced what she later referred to as “a dreadful anguish.” Loren nearly passed out as she entered the elevator at the hotel, and she later found herself in the hospital, where she was told that she had experienced a miscarriage.
Four years later, while she was filming “More Than A Miracle,” she experienced another pregnancy. This time, she was better prepared, and as soon as she noticed the first signs, she gave Ponti a call to share the wonderful news:
“I am going to use extreme caution this time. I don’t want to put myself in any dangerous situations.”
Loren claims that she heard a small voice telling her that history would continue to repeat itself within her skull. When she was at home with Basilio (a friend) while Ponti was in London for work, she began to experience extreme pain. This was the first indication that something was wrong.
Basilio placed a call to the doctor, but the medical practitioner did not appear to be alarmed by the perceived level of urgency, stating that Loren had nothing to be concerned about. In spite of the poor recommendation, Loren and his friend hurried to the hospital, where they met the doctor just as he was about to leave for a cocktail party.
Before he left, he medicated her with a powerful sedative and assured her that the problem was only temporary while telling her to get some rest. However, the contractions became more intense, and Loren reported that she had the sensation that she was going into labor; however, the doctor did not take any action. She mentioned that when the pain abruptly stopped at 4 in the morning, she knew it was all over.
After receiving a call from the hospital, the attending physician did not arrive for another two hours. Upon their arrival, he greeted her by saying, “Signora, you undoubtedly have wonderful hips, and you are a very attractive woman; however, you will never have a child.” Concerning the condescending remarks made by the physician, Loren stated:
“His cutting words dashed all of my hopes, leaving me feeling helpless, barren, and profoundly unqualified.”
She tried to put on a brave face for her significant other, but she could tell how devastated Ponti was, and at that moment, she let herself go and sobbed her eyes out until she had released all of her emotions.
But her hopelessness was soon replaced by happiness when she and Ponti became parents for the first time to a son named Carlo Jr. in December of 1968. The now 53-year-old conductor is recognized all around the world for his talent.
Carlo Jr. has collaborated with orchestras all over the world, and his website claims that he has given performances on multiple continents, including in cities such as Vancouver, Cape Town, and Budapest.
In the meantime, the couple welcomed their second son, Edoardo, in January of 1973. Edoardo followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a movie director and working in the film industry.
He was determined to become an expert in his field and attended the University of Southern California, where he received two degrees. The 49-year-old has already directed a number of performances by A-List actors and actresses from Hollywood, including his legendary mother.
When Loren gave birth to her first child for the first time, she recalled the pleasant sensation she experienced when she held her eldest son in her arms for the first time:
“It was the most incredible, unforgettable, unexplainable delight that I had ever experienced. When I was able to finally hold him in my arms, I was utterly filled with feelings.
After the birth of her first child, she believed that her life could not possibly be much better. “But Edo increased my joy by a factor of two. I came to the conclusion that it was one of those inexplicable aspects of becoming a mother “explained, Loren.
During an interview with CBS in 2009, Loren disclosed that, in addition to being a proud mother, she had suffered when asked about the loss of her spouse many years later. When she was asked by news correspondent Jim Axelrod how she was adjusting to life without Ponti, she stopped for a bit before getting tearful in response to his question.
Ponti passed away at the age of 94, and his wife later remarked that even at the time of his passing, it did not feel real to her because she had not yet fully accepted the fact that she would never see him again.
After only a few years had passed, she was forced to make some challenging choices regarding her life and profession, and it suddenly occurred to her that he was no longer there to advise her. Since then, she has completely absorbed herself in her profession in order to shield herself from the truth.
In a frank interview with Vanity Fair that was published in February 2012, Loren revealed that Ponti is the one thing that is still missing from her life, and she went on to explain that life without him does not get any easier:
“It doesn’t get any easier. My husband Carlo is someone I think about often but seldom see. You can’t be successful in all areas at the same time. That’s the way life is.
Loren does not let the fact that she is 88 years old slow her down in any way. The seven-time Golden Globe Award winner will next be seen in the upcoming drama “The Life Ahead,” which will air on Netflix in 2020.
Even though it was her first feature appearance since a TV movie more than 10 years ago, the iconic film diva continues to place an emphasis on her family above all other commitments. Despite this, she is still able to merge all of her hobbies because her youngest son Edoardo is both a co-writer and the director of the movie.
This endeavor is the third time that the two of them have worked together, and she plays Madame Rosa, an Italian Holocaust survivor. It was the film’s message of tolerance that brought Loren back into acting, but her need for a personal connection has caused her to be selective in the projects that she takes on.
The New York Times conducted a phone conversation with Loren, during which she revealed that she has reduced the number of films she produces ever since the birth of her children. It wasn’t because she didn’t enjoy what she did; rather, she was interested in learning more about her own family. She decided not to take on any more parts at all and convinced herself that she would make up for lost time later.
“I stopped making films for a long time, but during that time I was quite pleased because I was able to watch my children grow up, get married, and have their own children,” Loren stated.