Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

A timeless italian actress

For decades, Italian actress Sophia Loren has held a place in people's hearts all over Italy. Shooting to fame in the 1950's, she's gone on to star in over 80 movies, spanning a wide range of genres.
Success found her by chance. Sophia grew up in Pozzuoli, near Naples, with her sister and grandmother. When her grandmother opened a piano bar, Sophia would wait tables, while her sister sang. The bar was frequented by many American military personnel, and it wasn't long before the young Sophia, with her youthful exuberance and good looks, became a popular feature, being given the nickname 'Sofia Lazzaro', after the legend of Lazarus, because 'her beauty would wake the dead'.
Her big break came when she was encouraged by a regular at the bar to enter the Miss Italia beauty contest, where she caught the eye of film producer Carlo Ponti. Captivated by her beauty, he was inspired to offer her small parts in a few films he was working on. The success of films like 'The Gold of Naples' and 'Lucky to be a Woman' saw her popularity spread to Hollywood, where her star shone even brighter and Carlo went on to become the love of her life.
Showered in accolades and awards, she was the first celebrity to launch her own perfume and make-up range, starting a trend still popular to this day. Now in her 80's, Sophia's youth may be behind her, but she still holds all the Italian style, grace and charm she became famous for.