Meeting Sophia Loren
(Text by Edward Quinn)
It is difficult to believe that Sophia Loren when she was a teenager was so skinny that people called her "stechetto" - the stick. But Sophia herself said that one had been a “scarecrow of a girl buried in poverty".
When one was sixteen however, wearing a dress made by her mother from pink window curtains, she won a prize in the "Miss Rome" beauty contest. The producer Carlo Ponti was one of the judges. Ponti gave Sophia a small part in a film and then took her career in hand.
He helped her to get the starring role in his production of a semi-documentary "Africa under the Sea".
When I met Sophia Loren for the first time, she was not yet a star, she was just a very sexy, attractive young girl with a bosom which drew attention wherever she went.
Sophia was still at the stage of her career when a camera meant publicity and she intended to get as much as she could. She had come to the Film Festival in Cannes chaperoned by her mother who had hoped to become a film star herself when she was young. But the only success she had was a second place in a contest to find a double for Greta Garbo. She than decided that she would help her daughter to become a star.
She writhed and wriggled and even agreed to lie down in her
splendid white evening dress and frilly underskirts, so that I could get an unusual picture.
A few years later I photographed Sophia again in Cannes. She was a star by then, acclaimed not only for her physical appearance, but also for her acting. She had won an Oscar for her performance in “Two women", and she had been presented to Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Performance.
Sophia was now married to Carlo Ponti, they were staying at the Hotel Carlton. Sophia got the big Hollywood star treatment, she was the center of all the action, a cohort of photographers was swarming around her, preventing anybody from getting a good picture. When I went to a press conference in Sophia’s room, as I was not satisfied to get just the same photo as everybody else, I locked myself in the bathroom and came out when all was quiet. After a moment of surprise and hesitation, Sophia accepted with good grace to let me take my exclusive pictures.