Sophia Loren: Her Own Story
by Mel Stewart


USA (NBC network) - October 26-27, 1980 - Sophia Loren: Her Own Story - 144'
Italy - 1982 -
France - 1982 - Sophia Loren - 144'
West Germany - Sophia Loren: Mein Leben - 138'
Spain (TVE) - June 16, 1983 - La vida de Sofia Loren -

American VHS American publicity American VHS


After having won a contest of Greta Garbo look-alikes, the young Romilda Villani meets Riccardo Scicolone with whom she falls in love. Two daughters are barn from the relationship: Sofia and Maria. Although recognized as legitimate by their father and bearing his surname, the little girls suffer very much in childhood for being the children of a couple not married ‘according to the rules’. When war breaks out, Riccardo Scicolone leaves Romilda and his daughters without any means of support. Romilda Villani must make enormous sacrifices for herself and her children. At the end of the war she manages by playing the piano in a trattoria set up impromptu by her relatives for ‘the Americans’. From Naples, Romilda moves to Rome where she and Sofia begin to frequent the movie scene and gain work as extras in a number of films made during that period. One of these is LeRoy’s Quo vadis? Sofia gets small parts in other films and also acts in picture novels, thanks to her exceptional photogenic qualities. She meets Carlo Ponti by chance in a trattoria; Ponti is a producer associated with De Laurentiis who recognises her talent, but several years pass before the young actress finds a good role. This happens in Africa under the Seas (Africa sotto i mari). Fame comes not only because of Carlo Ponti, but above all because of a meeting with director and actor Vittorio De Sica, who is able to give maximum prominence to the actress’s talents. During the shooting of the film The Pride and the Passion (Orgoglio e passione) Sophia meets Cary Grant, who proposes to her, but the actress later marries Carlo Ponti. (Enrico Lancia)
Story and screenplay: Johanna Crawford, Basilio Franchina and Sophia Loren from the book ‘Sophia: Living and Loving: Her own Story’ by Aaron E. Hotchner


Rome, Naples (Italy)
Los Angeles (USA)
Geneva (Switzerland)
Elstree Studio (England)

Filming dates: June through September


Sophia Loren (Romilda Villani / Sophia)
Armando Assante (Riccardo Scicolone)
Theresa Saldana (Maria Scicolone)
Ritza Brown (the young Sophia)
Rip Torn (Carlo Ponti)
John Gavin (Cary Grant)


Photography: (Estcolor)
Alberto Spagnoli
Fred Karlin
Costume design:
Giulio Coltellacci
Makeup Artist:
Franco Freda
Sophia's Hair Stylist:
Adalgisa Favella
Sophia's Hats:
Jean Barthet

Still photoprapher:
Elio Sorci

Alex Ponti and Peter Kotz for EMI Television


Romilda Villani, now seventy-one, offered to serve as technical adviser, but Sophia banned her from the set.  She did not like the way she was depicted in the movie."I hate it," she told a reporter-friend. "It's preposterous and quite wrong-at least the way Sophia portrays me. I was never a common woman, yet I am portrayed like an ignorant peasant. I was slim and classically beautiful and have the photographs to prove it. I was voted Garbo's lookalike in 1932, so how terrible could I have looked? Perhaps the writers didn't know any better, but Sophia did. I don't know how she could do this to her own mother."

A.E. Hotchner is conspicuously absent from the collaboration, reportedly because Sophia was miffed over some of the interviews he gave after the publication of their book

Already outraged by Sophia's revelations in her book, Grant threatens to sue when he learns that he is going to be depicted. An out-of-court settlement is made in which Grant reportedly receives script approval of the scenes in which he is portrayed plus $250,000 for the right to use his name.

The American broadcast marks the official launching of the "Sophia" perfume.


"I feel without underwear. I feel naked. My legs tremble," says Sophia Loren of her latest role. It is not a question of torrid nude scenes. Rather, as she observes, "it's a stranger sensation to play myself". Sophia is less flustered by her other part in Sophia, a TV movie based on A.E. Hotchner's 1979...
Claudia Wallis, Time (28 jul 1980)

"Sunday night's Big Event on NBC (Channel 4 at 8) follows three rules of larger-than-life drama: Sophia Loren, Sophia Loren and Sophia Loren.Entitled "Sophia Loren Her Own Story," with the same unpunctuated grandeur of the best-selling (auto) biography written (In Her Own Words) by A. E. Hotchner, this gloriously catalogued galivant upwards from poverty to cinematic omniprescence is going to set the Nielsen ratings on fire. The reason, literally, is..."
Washington Post, Oct 25

"In the film, I play my mother, beginning before I was born, her relationship to my father and then myself as an adult.
Playing my mother was one of the most difficult things I could do. ''When you play a role that's been written by someone else,
you can use your own tricks and get away with it. But I knew my mother would see the film and not let me get away with it.''
She says it was even worse to play herself. ''It was like looking in a mirror . . . I had to use every resource within me to give
the image of myself that was real, not simply the one I wanted the public to see.''
Sophia Loren

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