Sophia Loren (1934- ), Italian film actress, who progressed from being an international sex symbol to Academy Award (Oscar) winner. Born in Rome, Loren was a beauty contestant when she was discovered at the age of 15 by film producer Carlo Ponti, who later became her husband. She became a star by the age of 20, though her early films were not notable. Her most noteworthy Hollywood film was the Western Heller in Pink Tights (1960).
Loren returned to Italy, where she acted in La Ciociara (1961; Two Women), a powerful wartime tale directed by Vittorio De Sica, for which she earned her first Academy Award. De Sica also cast her in a series of earthy Italian comedies opposite Marcello Mastroianni, starting with Ieri, Oggi, Domani (1963; Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow) and Matrimonio all'Italiana (1964; Marriage Italian Style); the latter brought her another Oscar nomination. Loren has moved freely between European and Hollywood projects. Her films include L'Oro di Napoli (1954; Gold of Naples), Houseboat (1958), The Black Orchid (1959), El Cid (1961), A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), and Una Giornata Particolare (1977; A Special Day). Now acting only occasionally, she played a small part in the Robert Altman film Prt--Porter (1994), and starred opposite Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Grumpier Old Men (1995). In 1996 she appeared in Roger Hanin's Soleil, a comedy set in late 1930s France. Loren received an honorary Academy Award in 1991, and in 1995 she was given the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.