Friday, November 20, 2020

Frozen in time: Sophia Loren, June 1964


Sophia Loren having lunch on the second floor terrace of her villa near Lake Albano, Rome.
 Photograph: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures

Frozen in time: Sophia Loren, June 1964

Outrageous beauty, a million dollar movie deal and a dream home outside Rome: it's hard being Sophia Loren

Euan Ferguson
Sun 16 Sep 2012 00.05 BST


any actresses have loved, before friends and certainly for the still camera, to play the "homebody": to show they can combine red-carpet smiles with a down-to-earth way in the kitchen garden; whistle up a rustic lunchtime banquet for 30 and serve it without fussings or frissons or primping about drips. Yet none with such verisimilitude as Sophia Loren; waiting tables, juggling seven hands and six different smiles, had been living through some very difficult teenage years.

Even here in 1964, living in her and producer Carlo Ponti's 50-room mansion near Rome's Lake Albano, complete with acres of poplars and sheep, and stuffed inside with medieval hangings and masters both old and modern, and having just made headlines for her $1m advance for The Fall of the Roman Empire, there's an earthy authenticity.

Even if she hadn't been the most award-adorned beauty of her times, there is such a vigorous snap-happy grace in her serving of – it's hard to tell exactly, but salami, tomatoes, eggs, cheese, gherkins, bread with a little napkin to dissuade the flies – that it's hard not to think this is one of the truest manifestations of La Dolce Vita, of life itself.

It was not always thus. Through and beyond the war years she was dishwashing and waiting tables for her grandmother, who had a tiny pub in her front room near Naples, serving home-made cherry liqueur to lingering GIs who had recently been trying to kill them. She was 12 and blooming. And smart. And at 16 she met Ponti, 22 years her elder, with whom she stayed until his death in 2007. Grace, humour, beauty, riches and a way with eggs, and a great friend in the phenomenal Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, whose Leica M3s had also captured that enduring VJ Day picture of a sailor kissing a girl in Times Square: who would not, that day in 1964, when the world still seemed so young, have wanted to be Sophia Loren, in the Roman sun? With olives, and napkins, and a hat, and the world?


No comments:

Post a Comment