Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sophia's available: now get in line, all you guys of a certain age

Sophia Loren's husband Carlo Ponti has died at the age of 94 (hat tip: Pajamas Media).

Sophia made my list of ten all-time favorite movie stars back in May of 2005. She was (well, I suppose she still is, but I haven't seen a movie of hers in decades) that rarest of rara aves: a sex symbol, a comedienne, and a serious actress, all in roughly equal measure.

Apparently she's an intelligent and witty woman, as well. Her marriage to Ponti--one most people would not have bet on for longevity, back when she was 23 and he, at 45, had left his first wife and defied Italy's restrictive divorce laws to wed Loren in Mexico by proxy--withstood the test of time.

Ponti and Loren were one of those odd couples whose attraction to each other was somewhat opaque to outsiders (that is, of course, hers to him. His to her was plain enough). He must have been a charming and charismatic man, however, at the very least.

I especially liked the Loren-Mastroianni cinema combination. In "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," as well as the wonderful-but-virtually-unobtainable-on-video "Marriage, Italian Style," she showed her comedic talents as well as her physical assets.

But it was her Oscar-winning performance in "Two Women" (produced by Ponti, as were so many of her films) that was a revelation. I saw it when I was very young--perhaps too young. But I couldn't help but be awed by the deeply emotional and yet utterly naturalistic performance of Loren as a mother trying (and failing) to protect her daughter from the chaos of war.

At any rate, the statuesque Loren and the diminutive Ponti had been married for nearly fifty years when he died, a record unusual for anyone these days, and almost unheard of for a star. One thing is certain: Loren's loyalty to Ponti wasn't for lack of opportunity: Cary Grant fell head over heels in love with her, to name just one of many.

But I think this sums it up best, found at Loren's Wikipedia biography:

The Archbishop of Genoa once said that although the Vatican opposed human cloning, "an exception might be made in the case of Sophia Loren."

[ADDENDUM: By the way, when I was looking up Mastroianni I discovered in the Wiki article that he himself was married close to fifty years, to one women. However, in classic marriage, Italian-style, he had a longtime mistress, with whom he had a child. The name of said mistress? Catherine Deneuve. Poor guy.]

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