“What’s ‘So-peeya’?” my sister Missy asked, adorably mispronouncing the name inscribed on the fancy glass bottle.
“It’s Sophia,” my mother corrected. “It’s a perfume named after a beautiful movie actress. I always wanted to look like her.”
Missy looked at the bottle on the table for a few seconds, then glanced up at Mom.
“Well, if you can’t look like her, at least you can smell like her!”
In my sister’s defense, she was only 7 or so when she issued this unintentional dis, and my mom got plenty of mileage from it, repeating the story at just about every family party for the next thirty years.
I thought of that unforgettable moment from my childhood when Turner Classic Movies announced today that Sophia Loren will attend the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood next month. The two-time Oscar-winner will introduce a screening of MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE (1964) and sit down with host Robert Osborne for a interview to be broadcast on the channel next year. Sophia Loren: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival will be recorded on Saturday, March 28 at the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Hollywood, in front of what is likely to be a capacity crowd of TCMFF passholders.
Born Sofia Scicolone in Rome in 1934, Loren first came to international prominence in Italian comedy films of the mid-1950s from directors like Dino Risi and Vittorio De Sica. Hollywood soon came calling, and the young actress was cast opposite some of the biggest stars of the era, including Gregory Peck, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. (Loren’s vocal rendition of “Bing! Bang! Bong!” opposite Grant in 1958’s HOUSEBOAT is a thing of perverse beauty). She won an Oscar in 1962 for her role as a fiercely protective mother in war-torn Italy in the heart-wrenching drama TWO WOMEN and was nominated three years later for MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE (both directed by De Sica). Despite slowing down to raise her children, Loren continued to be one of the most popular international stars in the ensuing decades, and she was recognized with an honorary Oscar by the Academy in 1991.
Loren continues to work sporadically today, earning accolades for Rob Marshall’s NINE (2009), appearing in an Italian TV miniseries in 2010, voicing the character of Mama Topolino in the non-English language versions of CARS 2 (2011), and starring in her son Edoardo Ponti’s short film HUMAN VOICE (2014). Last year she appeared at the Cannes Film Festival, presenting an acting master class and introducing MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE as part of the Cannes Classics series.
And, of course, she’s still beautiful at age 80.
My mother would also have celebrated her 80th birthday in March, just days before Loren’s appearance at the TCM Classic Film Festival, so I’m sure she’ll be there in spirit. And if you’re planning to be there in person, I suggest you line up early. The Montalban Theater only seats 300, and Robert Osborne’s chat with this living legend is likely to be one of the hottest tickets in a weekend filled with must-see events.
Sadly, my sister won’t be able to attend, because she’ll be busy taking care of her kids. By the way, her youngest daughter, age 3, is beautiful and loves having her picture taken. Which makes perfect sense, considering her name is Sophia.