Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren’s adored husband and father of their two kids, was her lover and protector during their 57-year marriage. Here are the details of their nearly 70-year romance.
Sophia Loren is an Italian actress who has been considered one of the greatest female stars of Classical Hollywood cinema by the American Film Institute.
The late Italian film producer Carlo Ponti was the sole husband of the cinema veteran. Edoardo and Carlo Jr., the couple’s two sons, were born to them.
FIRST GLANCE: STRONG CONNECTION
Loren described how she and Ponti met in the book ‘The Northeastern Dictionary of Women’s Biography,’ saying it was love at first sight:
‘For both of us, it was true love. When I was 16, we met at a beauty pageant in Rome, where he was on the committee. He noticed me seated at a table with friends and invited me to participate in the contest.’
‘I did, and I came in second, but the most important thing was that this is how we first met, initially in a pleasant manner, and then when I was 19… We sincerely cared for one another ‘She went on to say more.
Later Ponti (22 years older) negotiated small parts in low-budget Italian productions after seeing her at another beauty contest. Loren shot to fame in “The Gold of Naples” at the time.
During this time, she began a relationship with Ponti, who was already a father of two children with his first wife, Giuliana Fiastri.
She was chosen by an American studio to star in “The Pride and the Passion” in 1956, and she was immediately charmed by her co-star Cary Grant.
Loren was 22 years old when she met Ponti, who would later become her husband. Grant, on the other hand, was 52 years old and married for the third time when he fell in love with her.
Loren described that time in her life as ‘weird’ in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald because she found it very hard to leave in the United States:
‘Cary loved me and wished me to marry him, but doing so would have meant leaving Carlo and causing a major scandal. I was terrified of how people would react if I had left Italy.’
Nonetheless, Loren was able to fly to Hollywood for the first time with Ponti, and despite the fact that he was still married, Loren was grateful for the opportunity to cohabit with the “River Girl” producer. They’d been engaged in secret for three years.
Ponti flew back and forth between Los Angeles and Rome on business for the next three months, allowing his beloved to resume meeting Grant.
Grant, who was 30 years her senior, sent her a bunch of flowers every day, wrote intimate messages to her, and even contacted her frequently, according to the celebrity.
Ray Walston, who plays Mac in the 1957 film “Kiss Them For Me,” said Loren ‘kept showing up’ at the studio in the evenings to see the cuts and that ‘you could tell she and Cary were fond of each other.’
The ‘Two Women” star recalls Grant urging them to pray together for advice on whether or not to leave their respective partners in her first volume memoirs, writing:
‘I’ll remember you in my prayers.” Everything will be well and life will be wonderful if you think and pray with me for about the same thing and intention.’
She was on the brink of marrying Ponti, but she was also facing her greatest challenge, one that would define both her personal and professional lives.
Grant, on the other hand, was so enamored with Loren that he asked for her hand in marriage. He later apologized for pressuring her to marry in one of his letters, writing:
‘I apologize, darling baby girl. I put too much pressure on you. Until next week, please pray – as I shall. Sophia, farewell. Cary.’
‘The Pride and Passion” starred the two together. People assumed that Grant proposed to her while filming, however this was not the case.
During an interview with Radio Times, Loren clarified that it would be impossible for the English native to propose while they were working together on set:
‘Cary Grant was a superb performer and a lovely man, but he never proposed.’
She also stated that she was far too young at the time to have any clear thoughts about marriage and romance. Because she selected Ponti, their romance ended when the filming wrapped.
Loren and Ponti married in 1966 in France and were together until his death in January 2007. ‘Carlo was Italian, and he belonged in my world, but Cary Grant didn’t.’ She stated, ‘I know it was the correct thing to do for me.’
Despite the fact that she married Ponti, their relationship had its ups and downs. Their union created legal havoc, as it culminated in a polygamy trial.
It made the pair uncomfortable when asked about their marriage status, and Loren admitted that it bothered them to have to talk about it:
‘My husband, that is, my ex husband, I mean my fiancé… well, you know Carlos – and I don’t want to discuss this since it will only cause us to be sad.’
Lawyers had promised the long-awaited verdict in the bigamy trial of twice-married Ponti and once-married Loren at the time. They risked up to five years in prison, but they had no intention of attending their trial because they had not attended their wedding in Juarez, Mexico.
However, their marriage was deemed invalid in their nation. Because Ponti was still married at the time, going through the wedding was judged illegal and hence bigamous.
The couple’s wedding was nullified because there were no eyewitnesses, and bigamy became impossible because the ceremony was not legally binding.
Another aspect was Ponti’s divorce from his first wife, which was not recognized in Italy but was recognized in Mexico. Fiastri, who married Ponti in 1946, not only filed the bigamy charges against him, but she also appealed with the judges not to pursue the case. However, they finally divorced.
Meanwhile, Loren revealed that she yearned to be a mother after surviving prison for tax cheating when she was 29. She started having pregnant symptoms while filming a film in Naples in which she played a mother of seven.
She ignored the symptoms, blaming them on the fact that she was ‘playing a mother and bonding so strongly with my character.’ When she went to the doctor for tests, the results were negative.
Loren was happy and happier than she had ever been after her dream of becoming pregnant came true. Her problems, however, were far from ended. She described the days that followed as ‘among the saddest and darkest of my life.’
The “Houseboat” actress sensed something was amiss and went to see a doctor, who calmed her and advised her against driving.
She then traveled to Milan by train for the filming of her next scene, which regrettably took place on an entire stage car suspended on a hydraulic arm to replicate the bumps. Loren compared the sensation to driving an actual car.
She suffered ‘a tremendous discomfort’ on her first night in Milan, she said. Loren nearly passed out as she entered the hotel elevator and ended up in the hospital, where she found she had miscarried.
She became pregnant again four years later while filming ‘More Than A Miracle.’ She was better prepared this time, and she called Ponti to inform him of the good news:
‘I’m going to be cautious this time. I’m not willing to take any chances.’
Loren claims that a small voice in her head warned her that history will repeat itself. The first indicator of problems occurred when she was in excruciating agony at home with Basilio (a friend) while Ponti was away on business in London.
Basilio phoned the doctor, who was unconcerned about the sense of urgency, claiming Loren had nothing to be concerned about. Despite the doctor’s bad advise, Loren and a friend went to the hospital and ran into him as he was leaving for a cocktail party.
He gave her a heavy sedative before leaving, claiming it was a passing situation and recommending her to sleep. The contractions became more intense, and Loren stated that she felt like she was in labor, but the doctor did nothing. ‘I knew it was all over’ when the pain suddenly ended at 4 a.m., she said.
The doctor was contacted by the hospital, and it took him two hours to arrive. ‘Signora, you no doubt have lovely hips, and you’re a beautiful woman, but you will never have a kid,’ he told her when she arrived. Loren voiced his feelings over the doctor’s harsh remarks:
‘His harsh comments destroyed all of my hopes, leaving me weak, barren, and horribly inadequate.’
Despite her best efforts to put on a brave face for her significant other, she could see how upset Ponti was, and she let herself go and cried her heart out.
However, her sadness was soon replaced by excitement when she and Ponti welcomed their first child, Carlo Jr., in December 1968. The now 54-year-old conductor is well-known around the world.
Carlo Jr. has worked with orchestras all over the world, and according to his website, he has performed in cities such as Vancouver, Cape Town, and Budapest.
Meanwhile, the couple’s second son, Edoardo, was born in January 1973 and followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a film director.
He moved to the United States to pursue his craft and graduated from the University of Southern California with two degrees. The 49-year-old has already directed various A-List celebrities, including his legendary mother.
Loren described the good emotion she received when she first held her oldest son in her arms when she became a mother:
‘It was the finest, most exquisite delight I had ever known.” When I had him in my arms, I was utterly filled with emotion.’
She believed life couldn’t get much better after having her firstborn. ‘But Edo made me twice as happy. It was one of those incomprehensible mysteries of parenthood, I realized ‘Loren stated.
Loren confessed she struggled when questioned about losing her spouse years later during a CBS interview in 2009, aside from being a proud mother. She paused for a bit before becoming tearful when news presenter Jim Axelrod asked her how she was coping to life without Ponti.
Ponti died at the age of 94, and his wife remarked that it still hadn’t hit her that he was gone forever at the time of his death.
She faced some difficult life and career decisions only a few years later, and it flashed on her that he was no longer there. She has now buried herself in work in order to avoid facing her reality.
Loren revealed that Ponti is one missing component in her life in a honest interview with Vanity Fair in February 2012, noting that living without him is difficult:
‘It’s not getting any easier.’ Carlo, my husband, is sorely missed. It’s impossible to have everything at once. “This is life.’
Loren, who is 87 years old, does not let her age hold her back. The seven-time Golden Globe winner will appear in the Netflix thriller “The Life Ahead” in 2020.
Despite the fact that it was her first feature picture since a TV movie over ten years ago, the iconic actress still puts her family first. Her youngest son Edoardo, though, combines both of her hobbies as the film’s co-writer and director.
This is their third collaboration, and she portrays Madame Rosa, an Italian Holocaust survivor. Loren returned to acting after seeing the film, but her demand for personal connection has made her picky about her ventures.
Loren told The New York Times in a phone interview that she has slowed down her filmmaking since her children were born.
She didn’t want to know more about her family because she didn’t like her job. She stopped taking on parts and promised herself that she would make up for it later.
‘I stopped creating movies for a long period but was extremely pleased because I got to see my children grow up, marry, and have their own children,’ Loren said.