Screen Icon Sophia Loren Turns 80!

Bella Sophia! Happy birthday to Italy’s national treasure and legendary screen siren Sophia Loren who turns 80 tomorrow.

“The two big advantages I had at birth were to have been born wise and to have been born in poverty.” — Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren’s life had a rocky start. She was born to an unwed mother on September 20, 1934, and grew up in abject poverty as the world was on the verge of war. Besides bearing the stigma of illegitimacy in Italian society, she was a very thin and scrawny child, and neighborhood kids taunted and nicknamed her “stuzzicadenti” — “toothpick.” World War II  ravaged her town, and during one air attack, she was knocked to the ground and split open her chin, leaving a scar that has remained ever since.

“Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.” — Sophia Loren

In 1960, filmmaker Vittorio De Sica announced plans to cast Sophia as a young widow, struggling to survive and protect her 12-year-old daughter from the hell of World War II. De Sica knew that Sophia’s childhood had given her the greatest training possible. Two Women became an astounding international success. Dino De Laurentiis recalled, “For any young sexy girl like Sophia, it was not easy. . .to be the mother of the child in such a dramatic part. . .It was perfect the combination between De Sica and Sophia, and they did a sensational movie.” Loren received an Academy Award for Best Actress, the first for a non-English speaking role.

“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” — Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

Mangia! Sophia is a foodie who loves to eat and cook. She’s published two cookbooks of her Italian recipes. 

Maybe there’s a certain beauty in this because she was malnourished as a child in war-torn Italy, or maybe it just being from the land of heavenly food, but besides being a sultry screen goddess, Sophia Loren has published multiple cookbooks. In 1971, she released In Cucina Con Amore (In the Kitchen with Love) and in 1999, Recipes & Memories which is filled with personal anecdotes and recipes of traditional Italian cuisine. 

“Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.” — Sophia Loren

She has premonitions. In a 1979 interview with People magazine, Sophia Loren described getting a bad feeling about a trip and canceling at the last minute. “I have eerie premonitions. Once I was invited to a gala ball in Brussels, and the day before I was to leave I had an overwhelming feeling of impending disaster. I canceled, and the plane on which I was to return crashed, killing all aboard.”

“I want everything. All of it!” — Sophia Loren

No question Sophia Loren is va-va-va-voom voluptuous, but she also has a way with words when it comes to Scrabble. Loren’s first language is Italian, but mastering dual languages may have given her an advantage when it comes to wordplay. “I’ve beaten people like Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole, because I know the Latin roots of English words. They’re shattered when I win—and I always do.” 

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren at the gala premiere of “Two Days, One Night” at the 67th Festival de Cannes. (Photo: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com)

“Learn how to kiss.” — Sophia Loren

When it comes to puckering up, the sex symbol’s advice to young actresses is to keep it old school. “Now they kiss in another way, like they are devouring each other,” she once said. “They should see how people like Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant kiss. Do they eat each other’s faces? No.”

Check out Sophia and more Hollywood beauties in out Classic Hollywood Pin-Up gallery

For more about her icon style, read “Lessons I Learned from Sophia Loren” on xoJane