Sophia Loren tells all about Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Peter Sellers & more


Sophia Loren was honored at the AFI Film Festival last night. She got a special tribute and she did a Q&A session and her sons were there and lots of celebrities (including Sofia Vergara) were there. It seemed like a really nice night and it seems like there’s still a tremendous amount of love for Sophia Loren. As there should be. But in case you’re wondering why Sophia – who has always been a little bit reticent about sharing all – is suddenly so talkative, it’s because she’s written a memoir (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: My Life) and she’s currently promoting the hell out of it. Not only did we get her take on the infamous Jayne Mansfield side-eye, but she’s also been talking about famous costars, her husband Carlo Ponti (whom she met when she was 15 years old) and more. Some assorted quotes:

Why she learned English: Carlo Ponti told her “you have to learn English, because movies are in English.”

Her friend Cary Grant: “ He was special person, a great actor, absolutely incredible as a person, as a man.”

Peter Sellers: “very melancholic person. He would light up only when the director said action.”

Clark Gable: “did his job, I liked him a lot. But he had a watch and it rang every evening at 5. When it rang, he would leave without saying goodbye.”

A story about Marlon Brando & Charlie Chaplin: When asked about Marlon Brando, she said, “Eh” with an expressive shrug …she admitted that initially the two didn’t get along. She recalled an incident when Charlie Chaplin and she were kept waiting by Brando on the set of “A Countess in Hong Kong.” She said Chaplin took Brando to task for the delay. “Marlon Brando didn’t have a very good voice, very small,” she said, and after being berated by Chaplin, “it went away.” Loren herself was famous for being on set early, Marshall said, but the actress said since it irritated people she’s modulated her arrival.

Marcello Mastrioanni: “Marcello was great, he was a funny actor, dramatic actor. Twenty years we did films together. He was a simple man. He loved to eat. All morning he talked about lunch and then the rest of the day about dinner.”

Being told to get a nose job in her early days: “I always tried not to listen to these people. They were saying that my nose was too long and my mouth was too big. It didn’t hurt me at all because when I believe in something, it’s like war. It’s a battle. But even Carlo said, “You know the cameramen, they say that your nose is too long. Maybe you have to touch it a little bit.” And I said, “Listen, I don’t want to touch nothing on my face because I like my face. If I have to change my nose, I am going back to Pozzuoli.” At that time, they used to do noses like a French nose with a little tip at the end — they liked that. Can you imagine me with a nose like that?

She struggled with fertility for a long time: “But then at the end, it happened … for a woman to be a mother, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”

Why she didn’t marry Cary Grant (he proposed to her when she was 19): Loren had a relationship with co-star and Hollywood heartthrob Cary Grant, who asked her to marry him. She chose Ponti, who was more than 20 years her senior, and remained married to him until his death in 2007. Because Loren had grown up poor and without a father, Ponti represented security, she said. “We trusted each other immensely, and we loved each other. And also … I never had a father. And for me, Carlo was also my father. So he was everything for me.”

[From ABC News, THR, Variety]

I’ll admit it, I enjoyed writing this story immensely. I love some vintage scandal, and while none of this is very scandalous, I love hearing old stories about what some of the great Golden Age of Hollywood actors were really like. Who knew that Sophia was compulsively early? Who knew that Clark Gable was “done” at 5 pm every day? I knew the stuff about Cary Grant though. Grant was 20 years older than Sophia when he proposed and he was reportedly crazy in love with her. Can you imagine saying NO to Cary Grant and yes to Carlo Ponti? Damn, girl.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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40 Responses to “Sophia Loren tells all about Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Peter Sellers & more”

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  1. QQ says:

    If ya’ll don’t think I’m buying this book!!…

    Listen That Carlo Ponti Story lines up with the saddest reveal CDAN had on his site (save the “But CDAN LIEEESS” Thing) , anyways he said he got the story hearsay from a very old man and his daughter or some such (im paraphrasing will see if i can link up in a bit) how her mom and grandma had done horrific things in terms of prostituting Sofia Very VERY young, cards with her naked and everything, and passing her around and just being immensely poor and miserable and that one day this older man came and paid GOOD crazy money to take her off her grandmother’s hand… it was Carlo Ponti

    Anyways I love she’s always been so real and open about her life and Loyal to her old dude cause let’s face it tons of women would move “up” to younger/handsomer etc

    • Christin says:

      I had never heard this before. It might explain why she seemed to ‘owe’ Carlo (which is my own interpretation after reading her 1980s autobiography and various interviews).

      The Cary situation has always intrigued me. He was married to Bersy Drake while pursuing her, so that plus his previous divorces likely added to why Sophia didn’t end up with him. Both of them had sad childhoods, so at least they had that in common.

      • Christin says:

        Edit to above — The book I read in the 1980s was a biography published in 1979. I remember buying the book from a bookstore bargain bin with allowance money.

        I liked Sophia because she made eyeglasses look wonderful in a time when they were not considered cool for middle schoolers. She had her own line of eyewear back then.

      • QQ says:

        yeah Christin I feel the same.. it was like Gratitude?? and comfort more than say.. passionate love?? i do like that she has always been forthright about even that

      • MaiGirl says:

        Was that her autobiography? I read that years and years ago, and it never sounded like love or passion between her and Carlo. Additionally, she wrote about him slapping her several times. I know the times and culture were different, but it really did sound more father-daughter relationship than marriage, and he was just SO GROSS looking!

        I hope that gossip isn’t true, but it kind of jives even with her description of the grinding poverty of her youth.

      • Christin says:

        It was a popular biography of her (I mistakenly thought it was an earlier autobiography, because so much of it is similar to what is being reported in this autobiography regarding Carlo and Cary).

        I agree with QQ that she’s been pretty upfront about her relationships. I would love to sit with her and listen to her stories, though. I have a feeling she could cook an awesome meal, too.

    • Santolina says:

      That’s heartbreaking. I’m glad she had a happy ending.

  2. doofus says:

    love the old hollywood stories, too.

    she looks great. but how about some pics of her sons? from what I remember, they’re quite gorgeous.

  3. Kemper says:

    She is timeless. I would love to have a good cup of coffee with her.

  4. lunchcoma says:

    I didn’t know that about Clark Gable, either!

    I can kind of see where Sophia was coming from. Dating Cary Grant sounds like heaven, and it sounds like she got that. Being married to him? I mean, there was probably a reason the guy was married 5 times. I’m not sure I would have chosen Ponti, but I think Sophia probably spared herself a lot of pain and preserved a friendship by not agreeing to be Mrs. Grant.

  5. BengalCat2000 says:

    She’s such a badass broad. I cannot wait To read her book. My Old Hollywood obsession runs deep and her unique beauty has always fascinated me.

  6. You can tell she wanted to say more about Peter Sellers and Clark Gable or say what she said in a less classy way. But I love Sophia. She can do no wrong in my book.

    I would also like to put out there that Sophia looks fantastic at age 80.

    • hunter says:

      She does but I can’t hear another word about how she hasn’t had plastic surgery, her face is pretty obvious. And those lips! Yikes.

  7. HughJass says:

    Wasn’t she kind of blindsided by her marriage to Ponti? She and Grant had been getting serious when Ponti called her up and let her know he had just gotten a quickie Mexican divorce from his first wife and that he had arranged for a marriage by proxy with her. Something crazy like that.

  8. RobN says:

    I’ve heard and read that about Clark Gable in many places. Apparently, he did not like the habit directors had of making the crew stand around all day while the director wasted time and then making everybody stay late. Gable knew that when he was done for the day, they couldn’t shoot anymore, and everybody got to go home on time. The quote makes him sound like a prima donna, but the reality is just the opposite.

    MGM used to give out an award every year for favorite actor and actress, voted on by company staff, and Gable used to win year in and year out.

    My Mom worked as a secretary for MGM back in the late 40′s and loved him; raised all the kids watching his movies and telling stories about him.

    • pwal says:

      I love Clark Gable too.

      And given that this story happened in the 50s, when he got fired by MGM because they couldn’t afford him, despite his still being a draw, I get why he stood his ground, especially when MGM came back fairly quickly and offered his job back (BTW, he told them to stick the offer up their @$$es).

      Getting home at 5pm, especially when you were in the business for 20+ years and still a viable draw doesn’t seem prima donna at all, compared to the riders/special conditions that today’s stars get, regardless of their longevity.

  9. browniecakes says:

    This is on my Christmas list. Love biographies by the big stars.

  10. mia girl says:

    Cary Grant is my first love.

    I remember being a kid and watching the “Philadelphia Story” (still one of my favorite movies of all time) and falling for him HARD. At the time, he was probably in his late 70s in real life. Didn’t matter. He was everything.

    He and Loren did have great chemistry, but I think my favorite pairing with Grant was Ingrid Bergman. I’ve seen Hitchcock’s “Notorious” so many times. Loved them.

  11. Longhorn says:

    I had the privilege of meeting Sofia, Carlo and her children when I was a teen (my parents knew them). They were are all so nice and totally down to Earth. I especially remember the elder Carlo of being especially friendly to everyone and was really generous. They seemed like a really close family – very unhollywood.

  12. HiHeyHello says:

    Ugh she’s just so fantastic it’s annoying. I love old hollowly wood stories too. If people think celebrities are over the top then they need look further than the golden age of Hollywood. Boy, those people could party and have sex!

  13. Talie says:

    She talked about Cary and Ponti with Barbara Walters — on youtube — and her answer is just so damn real. I loved it.

  14. sassy says:

    so many men were in love with Sophia. With good reason, she seems beautiful on the inside as well, and men really gravitate towards that. The quality ones.

  15. taxi says:

    Cary Grant was once trying to buy a gorgeous Spanish Revival house in the Hancock Park section of L.A. The owner, a recent widow (my friend’s grandmother) was conflicted about moving & became unhappy. Cary had heard from the attorney involved that Mrs _____ was sorry she’d agreed to sell. Cary took a huge bouquet to the house and after talking with the widow for a while, said he understood how hard this was for her & released her from the sales contract. Class act!
    Decades later, I saw pictures of the house in a magazine – Michelle Pfeiffer was living there.

  16. LadyoftheLoch says:

    Such an ageless beauty, she oozes femininity and vintage Hollywood glamour with that certain classic Italian feistiness. She would definitely be on the top table at my dream dinner party. I could probably listen to her uninterrupted for hours!

  17. OTHER RENEE says:

    Taxi, Longhorn, thanks for the personal stories. They’re great, the kind that no one else here could otherwise know about.

  18. Dani says:

    It’s pretty known that her mother and grandmother used Sophia and her sister for money and even sometimes food. Ponti was one of her ‘clients’ supposedly. Such a sad situation but she’s such a beautiful and strong woman. My dad always had the biggest crush on her and I don’t blame him.

    • LadyoftheLoch says:

      Yes, very sad. Times were crushingly hard for her and her sister growing up in war-torn Napoli. Can’t imagine what she must have gone through. It’s all the more amazing to me that she went on to have the most extraordinary life and doesn’t seem bitter or twisted in any way. What an inspirational woman she is.

  19. Ally8 says:

    The Daily Fail had a longer excerpt of the book recently:

    Imagine Cary Grant saying this to you:
    ‘Why don’t we get married first, and then think about it?’

    (She was 22, Grant was 52, Ponti was 44.)

    • Santolina says:

      Yes, look at the ages. As I posted upthread, the “father figure” excuse for why she chose Ponti made no sense, because Grant was even older. The real reason was that Grant was not husband material.