Sophia Loren began a relationship with film producer Carlo Ponti when he was 37 years old and still legally married to his then-wife, Giuliana. Though he attempted to get a divorce, and by 1957, the couple was engaged, it took them nearly a decade to officially get married.
Their relationship faced a lot of criticism in Italy, influenced by the Catholic Church. In the meantime, Loren formed a relationship with Cary Grant during the production of ‘The Pride and the Passion.’
The actress discussed this period of her life in a 2014 interview with The Sydney Morning Herald:
“They were very different men. It was difficult. I was doing my first American-language film, and my American language was so very terrible I was upset. Many times, I needed help with the language, and Cary would help me.”
During their affair, Grant wanted to work with Loren again in the 1958 film ‘Houseboat,’ a role written for his third wife, Betsy Drake. He also proposed marriage to Loren. But, by the end of 1957, the Italian actress chose to continue her relationship with Ponti.
In the same chat, she explained her decision by saying:
“Cary belonged to another world in America. I felt that I would never fit in there. I would never have a future there because of my nationality. I was scared to change completely in life without knowing if this relationship or quasi-relationship was going on.”
After their breakup, Loren and Grant met each other a few more times. The actor visited her former lover in the ‘Two Women’ set and called her shortly before his death in 1986.
The actress revealed that phone call as follows:
“One day, he called me in New York where I was for another film. ‘How are you?’ ‘I’m fine,’ I said. ‘Why are you calling?’ And he said, ‘Because I wanted to say ciao.’ That was it. He died. He must have known he was dying.” Her voice is shaky with sadness.”
Following these events, Loren and Ponti had a proxy marriage in Mexico, using two lawyers as stand-ins. This marriage was not well-received in Italy, leading to accusations of bigamy from the Vatican.
Soon, the couple annulled the marriage and waited until Ponti’s official divorce from his first wife. By 1965, having acquired French citizenship, they finally formally got married.
Loren and Ponti had two kids together, and their marriage lasted until the producer died in 2007.