Sex Goddess and Screen Legend Sophia Loren turned 80 last month. Prompted by family and friends by the discovery of a box of love letters, she decided to write her ‘memoires.’ For film fans of that time period, one of her most fascinating revelations was about the pursuit of her leading man while making the 1957 film “The Pride and the Passion.” That passion linked her co-star Cary Grant and Ms. Loren and could have changed both of their lives forever.
Grant pursued her while they were on and off the set. At the time he was 30 years her senior at 52 years of age, and married. Loren was engaged to producer Carlo Ponti.
Her memoires titled ‘Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow-My Life,’ will be published next month and will reveal that Grant continually sent her notes and bouquets of flowers. He suggested they pray together to make the right decision. He told her he would leave his third wife and proposed marriage to her. Loren would write later that she was in love with her husband-to-be and because he was Italian he belonged in her world. They were married for 40 years.
The sexual tension did not end when the film was completed. In 1958 Grant’s wife, Betsy Drake, had an idea which developed into a romantic comedy called “Houseboat.” She was slated to star in the film with her husband. Instead, she was replaced by Ms. Loren. After the film was completed, the director, Melville Shavelson said the because of the relationship of his two stars, ‘the film was difficult to make.’
The box which was discovered tucked away in Loren’s closet contained before unseen pictures from Frank Sinatra which were included with letters and notes from the crooner; they had been long-time friends. It also contained correspondence from Marcello Mastroianni, Audrey Hepburn, and Richard Burton. There was also a written account of an encounter with Marlon Brando on the set of the 1967 film ‘A Countess from Hong Kong.’ When he grabbed her she turned to him and angrily told him to never do that again. She said she ‘pulverized him with her eyes.’
The title of her book comes from a 1963 film directed by Vittorio De Sica. The publishers believe that the ‘tomorrow’ part of the title is indicative of the fact that the screen legend believes her career is far from over. Her latest movie was released last year titled ‘The Human Voice.’
By James Turnage