Sofia Costanza Brigida Villani Scicolone
Sophia was born Sofia on 20th September 1934 in Rome, Italy. After her parents parted ways Sophia, along with her mother Romilda and sister Maria, went to live with her grandmother in Pozzouli.
During the Second World War Pozzouli was frequently bombed and became an incredibly dangerous place to live. Sophia had unfortunately been badly hit by a piece of shrapnel during an escape to an air-raid shelter. After this event, the family up sticks and moved to live with relatives in the safety of Naples. After the war the family returned to Pozzouli to resume their lives.
The Gold of Naples
At the tender age of 14 Sophia, egged on by her doting family, entered her first beauty pageant and placed as a finalist. This ignited a desire for a life in the limelight and Sophia set her sights on becoming an actress.
After years of acting classes and minor uncredited film roles, Sophia’s career took a turn for the better and she took the lead in the film Aida (1953). A positive buzz stirred and critical acclaim began pouring in – Sophia was a hit!
Her starring role as Sofia in The Gold of Naples (1954) kick-started her career as an established international actress. Sophia took the lead in famous titles such as The Pride and the Passion (1957), Houseboat (1958) and Two Women (1960) for which she won an Oscar.
Sophia married film producer Carlo Ponti Sr. in 1957 but the pair were forced to annul their marriage in 1962 as Carlo was still married to his first wife. Once resolved, the pair re-married in 1966 and went on to have two children – Carlo Jr. and Edoardo.
Family was so incredibly important to Sophia that she put her career on the back-burner to spend time with her children. She starred in the odd Hollywood film here and there but mostly returned to her roots working largely in Italian cinema.
After cementing herself as an iconic actress, Sophia went on to create her own brand of eyewear, became the first female celebrity to release a perfume and released two albums.
In recent years
1981 saw Sophia turning down a leading role in Dynasty that was later given to Joan Collins. Less than a year later Sophia spent 18 days in prison for tax evasion.
In 1991 Sophia received the Academy Honorary Award for her extensive work in world cinema and was regarded as “one of the world cinema’s treasures”.
Since Carlo’s death in 2007, Sophia’s career has largely slowed down with her last notable work being Mamma in the film Nine (2009). After a long, varied and successful career Sophia is now enjoying her later years as a very glamorous Grandma.