Ponti was Loren’s finally married in 1966. Though he had first spied on her at 14, the two did not become lovers until she was 19. Making American movies and being tempted by leading men, especially Cary Grant, Sophia lived a celebrity lifestyle in Los Angeles, a home far away from home.
Even as she grew close to Ponti, he was of course still married, and she detested it. She wanted “a legitimate husband, children, a family.” Her mother advised her to stay away from a married moviemaker, and Sophia secretly feared she’d find her mother’s fate.
The Screen Test
When she got the screen test with Carlo Ponti, Sophia did not speak English. Yet, she was able to get a meeting with Mervyn LeRoy, an admired American director. When he saw her, he invited her by saying, “Come,” yet she only understood it by his hand gesture.
Her mother advised the teen from Naples to answer “yes” to everything, no matter what he says. Just smile and nod. She did this throughout the meeting. Finally, he realized that she did not know a word of English. So, instead of a speaking role, she was given a part as an extra.
No one was more influential in Sophia Loren’s life than Carlo Ponti. When she met him as a teen, he was already married to an Italian woman named Giuliana Fiastri and they had two children. He first set eyes on Sophia in 1951, at the beauty pageant. Ponti was a prolific filmmaker and was nominated for two Oscars.
He won the Oscar for “La Strada” (1954), and his production, “Doctor Zhivago” was also highly recognized. Very influential in Italy, Ponti is known for popularizing Italian cinema for a post-WWII audience. He made 140 films, albeit his success was always eclipsed by Sophia Loren's.
A Father Figure
It did not escape Sophia’s notice that she seemed drawn to older men. She said at one point that she felt she married her father. Carlo held the place Scicolone left vacant in his young daughter’s life. She craved a relationship with an older man that could give her stability and love.
She talked about her experience growing up with an absent father and she believed it was the reason she yearned to be in a rightful marriage. Luckily, that was her fate.
She Only Saw Her Father Three Times
Sophia only saw her father a few times in her life. The first time she saw him she was five years old. She also saw him when she was 17, reaching out to him on her sister’s behalf. The last time she faced him was before his death in 1976.
She said that she didn’t have a relationship with him and wished he would’ve been a different person and good to her mother. What she went through as a child, because of his abandonment, was “hell,” as she called it.