Her marriage to Carlo Ponti, whom she adored and the father of their two sons, continued for 57 years, and during that time, she found both a lover and a protector in him. Carlo Ponti The following is a story of their affair, which has spanned over 70 years.
The American Film Institute considers the Italian actress Sophia Loren one of the most important female icons from the Great Era of Classical Hollywood Cinema.
Only one person, the late Italian film director Carlo Ponti, was the only person the film industry veteran has ever been married to. The couple raised two sons, Edoardo and Carlo Jr., together.
Italian film actress Sophia Loren in a restaurant in France with her husband Carlo Ponti | Source: Getty Images
CONNECTIVITY THAT APPEARS TO BE BOLD AT FIRST GLANCE
Loren remembered 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:
“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.”
“I did, and I finished second, but the most important thing was that this is how we started to see each other, at first in a friendly way, then it became serious when I was 19… We genuinely loved each other,” she continued to explain.
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 roles in low-budget Italian productions. The film “The Gold of Naples” was the catalyst for Loren’s meteoric rise to celebrity.
Italian film producer Carlo Ponti kisses his wife, actress Sophia Loren after she received the first Alexander Korda award, naming her ‘International Star of the Year’, at the world premiere of her new film “Lady L” at The Empire, Leicester square. | Source: Getty Images
During that time, she started having an affair with Ponti, who was married to his first wife, Giuliana Fiastri, and was already the parent 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 film studio, and she soon realized that she had a strong attraction to her fellow co-star, Cary Grant.
At 22, Loren had already begun a romantic 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 became obsessed with her.
Actor Cary Grant as Tom Winters and actress Sophia Loren as Cinzia Zaccardi in “Houseboat,” 1958. | Source: Getty Images
When asked about that time in her life during an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Loren referred to it as a “strange” moment because she had a hard time adjusting to the idea of moving to the United States:
“Cary was in love with me and wanted me to marry him, but that would have meant leaving Carlo and creating a huge scandal. I was afraid of what the reaction would have been if I had left Italy.”
Sophia Loren stars with Cary Grant in the United Artists production of “The Pride and The Passion.” | Source: Getty Images
DEEP LOVE BETWEEN LOREN AND GRANT
Despite this, she was able to make it to Hollywood for the very first time, this time with Ponti by her side. Even though Ponti was still married at the time, Loren was happy that leaving her home country allowed her and the producer of “River Girl” the opportunity to live together. They had been engaged in secret for three years before someone found out.
Ponti spent the following few months commuting between Los Angeles and Rome for work, giving his lover a chance to resume seeing Grant.
Even though Grant was 30 years older than her, the actress said that she couldn’t say no to him. She claimed that he would send her a bouquet of roses every day, write personal messages, and call her quite often.
Sophia Loren teaches co-star Cary Grant to dance the Flamenco during the filming of “The Pride and the Passion,” 1957. | Source: Getty Images
“Kiss Them For Me” star Ray Walston, who plays Mac in the 1957 film, revealed Loren “started showing up” at the studio in the evenings to watch the rushes, and “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’ll be in my prayers. If you think and pray with me for the same thing and purpose, all will be right, and life will be good.”
British-American actor Cary Grant and Italian actress Sophia Loren, his co-star in “Houseboat,” 1958. | Source: Getty Images
In contrast, she was on the brink of marrying Ponti, but she was about to face the greatest challenge of her life, which would 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. However, sometime later, in one of his messages, he apologized for putting undue pressure on her to marry.
“Forgive me, dear girl. I press you too much. Pray – and so will I – until next week. Goodbye, Sophia. Cary.”
Cary Grant and Sophia Loren outside the walls of Avila, Spain, during location filming for “The Pride and the Passion.” | Source: Getty Images
The play “The Pride and Passion” featured them in co-starring roles. Many people mistakenly believed Grant had proposed to her while they were shooting 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.
“Cary Grant was a handsome man and a wonderful actor, but he didn’t propose.”
Veteran stars Cary Grant and Sophia Loren in a scene from the movie “Houseboat” in 1958. | Source: Getty Images
She also said that she was too young to have clear ideas about love and relationships when those things happened. Because she decided to be with Ponti, their relationship stopped when shooting for the movie.
1966 saw the wedding of Loren and Ponti in France, and the couple remained married until his passing in January 2007. “Carlo was Italian and belonged to my world, and Cary Grant did not. I know it was the right thing to do for me,” she said.
Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti were photographed at their New York hotel after receiving the good news that his first wife was given a French divorce, enabling them to get married. | Source: Getty Images
HARROWING MISCARRIAGES AND A TRIAL INVOLVING BIGAMY
Even though she wound up marrying Ponti, their marriage had its share of struggles and difficulties. Their union was the source of much legal trouble, leading to prosecution for bigamy.
Because of this, the couple found it difficult to respond to questions about their marital status, and Loren revealed that the fact that they were forced to discuss the topic upset both of them:
“My husband, my former husband, I mean my fiancé … well, you know Carlos – and I don’t want to discuss this matter because it only upsets us.”
Carlo Ponti, Italian movies producer, and Sophia Loren, Italian actress, his wife during the Cannes Festival, 1966. | Source: Getty Images
The attorneys for the defendants in the bigamy trial of twice-married Ponti and once-married Loren had promised a decision in the case at the time. Even though they risked anywhere from one to five years in jail, they did not intend to attend their trial. They had also missed their wedding, which was held in Juarez, Mexico.
However, the couple’s native country did not recognize their marriage as legitimate. And they did so for the sole reason that Ponti was still married at the time, making it illegal for them to go through with the ceremony and making it bigamous.
Sophia Loren with her husband, Carlo Ponti, before boarding jet plane at Idlewild Airport for the West Coast. | Source: Getty Images
The wedding was declared invalid due to the absence of witnesses, and the couple could not engage in bigamy because the ceremony did not constitute a legally binding agreement.
Another reason was that Ponti’s divorce from his first wife was not recognized in Italy, even though it was legal in Mexico. Not only did Fiastri, who married Ponti in 1946, file the bigamy charges against him, but she also made an adamant request to the courts that they 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 disclosed that the desire first surfaced when she was 29. She was acting in a movie that was being filmed in Naples when she began to experience the symptoms of pregnancy. The movie was about a mother who had seven children.
Sophia Loren is wearing a blue turtleneck sweater on a bed while an unidentified man stands behind her in November 1964, London, England. | Source: Getty Images
She disregarded the symptoms, explaining her behavior by saying, “I was playing a mother and identifying so much 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 ecstatic and happier than she had ever been. However, this was only the beginning of her problems. She went on to say that the days that followed were some of her life’s most depressing and hopeless.
Sophia Loren, with a sad gaze, as she interprets Filomena Marturano in a scene from the movie “Marriage Italian Style,” in Naples, 1964. | Source: Getty Images
The star of “Houseboat” could sense something was wrong, so she decided to visit a doctor, who reassured her and recommended that she avoid traveling by car.
She eventually took a train to Milan, where the rest of her movie was shot, but her first scene had to be shot in a whole stage car mounted on a hydraulic arm to make it look like the bumps. According to Loren, the experience was much more frustrating than driving an actual car.
During her first night in Milan, she experienced what she later referred to as “a terrible pain.” 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.
Hollywood starlet Sophia Loren crying with clasped hands on the set of “Two Women,” 1960. | Source: Getty Images
After another four years, she became pregnant again while filming “More Than A Miracle.” This time, she was better prepared, and as soon as she saw the first signs, she gave Ponti a call to share the happy news:
“This time, I’m going to be careful. I don’t want to take any risks.”
Loren claims that she heard a tiny voice telling her that history would continue to repeat inside her mind. When she was at home with Basilio (a friend) while Ponti was in London for business, she began to experience intense pain. This was the first sign that something was wrong.
Sophia Loren as (Sofia Villani Scicolone) screams in despair in the film “Two Women,” 1960. | Source: Getty Images
Basilio placed a phone call to the doctor. Still, the medical practitioner did not appear alarmed by the sense of urgency, reassuring Basilio that Loren had nothing to be concerned about. Despite the poor suggestion, 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 suddenly stopped at 4 in the morning, she knew it was all over.
History-making Oscar winner Sophia Loren in a scene of “Five Miles to Midnight,” 1962. | Source: Getty Images
After receiving a message from the hospital, the attending physician did not arrive for another two hours. Upon their arrival, he greeted her, saying, “Signora, you no doubt have excellent hips, and you’re a beautiful woman, but you will never have a child.” Of the hurtful remarks by the doctor, Loren expressed:
“His scathing words dashed all my hopes, making me feel powerless, barren, and deeply inadequate.”
She attempted 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.
Sophia Loren lies in a hospital bed in a maternity clinic holding her newborn son Carlo junior with her husband, Carlo Ponti, standing beside the bed on January 4, 1969, in Geneva, Switzerland. | Source: Getty Images
BEING A MOTHER TO TWO CHILDREN
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 over the world for his talent.
Carlo Jr. has worked with orchestras worldwide, and his website claims that he has given performances on multiple continents, including in towns such as Vancouver, Cape Town, and Budapest.
Sophia Loren and her son Carlo Ponti Jr. during the European Cultural Award ‘Taurus’ at Vienna State Opera on October 20, 2019, in Vienna, Austria. | Source: Getty Images
In the meantime, the couple welcomed their second son, Edoardo, in January 1973. Edoardo followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a movie director and working in the film business.
He wanted to become a well-known expert in his field, so he attended the University of Southern California and got two degrees. The 49-year-old has previously directed some performances by A-list actors and actresses from Hollywood, including his famous mother.
Edoardo Ponti and Sophia Loren attend the 66th David Di Donatello 2021 prize ceremony photocall on May 11, 2021, in Rome, Italy. | Source: Getty Images
When Loren became a mother for the first time, she recalled the wholesome feeling she experienced for the first time when she was holding her eldest boy in her arms:
“The greatest, sweetest, most indescribable joy I had ever experienced. I was completely emotionally overcome when I held him in my arms.”
After the birth of her first child, she believed that her life could not get any better. “But Edo doubled my happiness. I realized it was one of those unfathomable mysteries of motherhood,” Loren said.
THE DEATH OF HER TRUE LOVE
Loren is a proud mother, but she opened up to CBS in 2009 about the difficulty of dealing with her husband’s death. She breathed deeply before breaking down when news anchor Jim Axelrod inquired how she managed life without Ponti.
Ponti died at the ripe old age of 94, and his wife later admitted that the reality of his death had not yet set in.
Seven-time Golden Globe Award winner Sophia Loren in a car with her husband, Carlo Ponti waving at the crowd in 1960. | Source: Getty Images
After only a few years, she had to make some tough decisions about her life and career, and she suddenly realized that he was no longer there to give her advice. Since then, she has completely absorbed herself in her work 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 clarify that life without him does not get any easier:
“It doesn’t get any easier. I miss Carlo very much, my husband. You can’t have everything at the same time. That’s life.”
Sophia Loren looks on during the DeRucci Grand Opening Party at Cologne Flora on January 19, 2015, in Cologne, Germany. | Source: Getty Images
PUTTING ON A SHOW OF STRENGTH
Loren does not let the fact that she is 88 years old slow her down. The seven-time Golden Globe Award winner will next be seen in the upcoming thriller “The Life Ahead,” which will stream on Netflix in 2020.
Even though it was her first feature debut since a TV movie more than ten years ago, the legendary film actress continues to emphasize her family above all other commitments. Despite this, she can still combine both of her interests because her youngest son, Edoardo, is both a co-writer and the director of the movie.
Sophia Loren attends the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 11th Annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on October 27, 2019, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images
This project marks the third time they have worked together, and she plays Madame Rosa, an Italian Holocaust survivor. The film’s message of tolerance pulled Loren back into acting, but her need for a personal connection has caused her to be selective about the projects she takes on.
In a phone interview with The New York Times, Loren revealed that she has been less active in the movie industry ever since the delivery of her children. It wasn’t because she didn’t enjoy what she did; rather, she was interested in learning more about her relatives. She decided not to take on any more parts and told herself that she would make up for lost time later.
“I stopped making films for a long time but was very happy because I saw my children grow up, get married, and have their children,” Loren explained.
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