Sophia Loren: A Biography

Warren G. Harris, Author
Warren G. Harris, Author Simon & Schuster $24.5 (352p) ISBN 978-0-684-80273-2
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
The tempestuous life of Italian film star and international sex symbol Sophia Loren is given a thorough but not very insightful treatment by veteran celebrity biographer Harris (Lucy & Desi; Cary Grant). The book's strongest section is the opening, as Harris recounts the well-known but still fascinating story of Loren's illegitimate birth as Sofia Scicolone--she was universally considered an ugly baby--as well as her hardscrabble upbringing in Mussolini's Italy, her terrifying wartime years in Naples and her discovery by producer Carlo Ponti, who later became her husband. Without Loren's participation, the author is forced to rely on earlier biographies and magazine interviews. As a result, he writes of the affairs Loren might have had with co-stars Cary Grant and Peter Sellers, while admitting that, in the end, he really doesn't know. Perhaps to make up for this, there's a bit too much about Ponti's producing career, but even there the author never really comes to grip with the fact that, under Ponti's guidance, Loren, apart from a few films (most notably Two Women, which brought her an Oscar), has mostly appeared in forgettable movies. Still, the book is enlivened by interviews with Loren's co-workers--the always entertaining Peter O'Toole tells of cutthroat poker games on the set of Man of La Mancha--and the pace is brisk, with enough gossip to satisfy the curious. Forty b&w photos, not seen by PW. (Jan.)
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