Sophia Loren is to be feted by the motion picture academy on May 4 with a tribute at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The evening will include film clips and personal remarks from her friends and colleagues and conclude with an onstage conversation with the Oscar champ.
Loren made Oscar history in 1961 when she became the first performer to prevail for a non-English speaking role by winning Best Actress for “Two Women.” Acting in her native Italian, Loren was riveting as a mother struggling to protect her daughter in war-torn Rome. Originally cast by her mentor Vittorio De Sica as the demure daughter, the then 26-year-old actress fought to play the part of the matriarch.
To win the Oscar, Loren edged out Audrey Hepburn (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”), Piper Laurie (“The Hustler”), Geraldine Page (“Summer and Smoke”) and Natalie Wood (“Splendor in the Grass”). The actress had decided not to make the trip to Hollywood from Rome and was woken up with news of her victory by a telephone call from one of her favorite leading men, Cary Grant. Greer Garson had accepted the award on her behalf, acknowleding this “wildly beautiful and talented girl.”
Three years later, De Sica directed Loren to another Oscar nomination in “Marriage Italian Style” opposite her most frequent co-star, Marcello Mastroianni. She lost to screen newcomer Julie Andrews (“Mary Poppins”). That same year, another of their pairings, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” won Best Foreign Language Film. Their collaboration on “A Special Day” (1977) was also nominated in that category.
And in 1990, the Academy presented Loren with an Honorary Award in the form of an Oscar statuette in acknowledgment of her status as “one of the genuine treasures of world cinema who, in a career rich with memorable performances, has added permanent luster to our art form.”