It is hard to believe that this icon’s life was ever anything but glamorous, but Sophia’s childhood was quite tumultuous. Sophia Loren was raised in poverty during World War II, born as Sofia Villani Scicolone on September 20, 1934 in Rome, Italy.
Although she would go on to be considered one of the most beautiful women in history, Sophia Loren’s wet nurse remembered her as “the ugliest child I ever saw in my life.” Also, she was nicknamed “little stick” by her classmates for her sickly physique but at the age of 14 Loren blossomed, seemingly overnight, from a frail child into a beautiful and voluptuous woman. “It became a pleasure just to stroll down the street,” she remembered of her sudden physical transformation.
That same year, Loren won second place in a beauty competition, receiving as her prize a small sum of cash and free wallpaper for her grandparents’ living room. In 1950, when she was 15 years old, Loren and her mother set off for Rome to try to make their living as actresses. Loren landed her first role as an extra in the 1951 Mervyn LeRoy film Quo Vadis.
Loren also expanded into other business ventures. In 1981, she became the first female celebrity to release her own perfume, following up with a personal eyewear line shortly thereafter. Loren published a book, Women and Beauty, in 1994. She continues to act and appear frequently in public as one of the film industry’s greatest living legends.
And don’t forget what she once said: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” So go ahead and have a big plate of pasta today!