Sophia Loren, OMRI (born Sofia Villani Scicolone; September 20, 1934) is an Italian actress.In 1962, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Two Women,along with 21 awards, becoming the first actress to win an Academy Award for a non-English-speaking performance. Loren has won 50 international awards, including two Oscars, seven Golden Globe Awards, a Grammy Award , a BAFTA Award and a Laurel award. Her other films include The Pride and the Passion (1957), Houseboat (1958), El Cid (1961), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963), Marriage Italian Style (1964), A Special Day (1977). In recent years she has starred in successful TV movies such as Courage(1986) and in American blockbusters such as Grumpier Old Men (1995), and Nine (2009). In 1994 she starred in Robert Altman's Ready to Wear that earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
In 1999, Sophia Loren was listed by the American Film Institute on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars as one of 25 American female screen legends of all time. In 2002, she was honored by the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) at its annual Anniversary Gala and was inducted into its Italian American Hall of Fame. In 2009, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized her as "Italy's Most Awarded Actress."In 1991, the Rebublic of France awarded her a Distinction of la Légion d'honneur (the Legion of Honor) with the grade of Chevalier (Knight). In 1997, Ms. Loren was invested Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic). In 2010, she was awarded the Praemium Imperiale by the Imperial Family of Japan on behalf of the Japan Art Association.
Loren was born in the Clinica Regina Margherita in Rome, daughter of Romilda Villani (1914–1991) and Riccardo Scicolone, a construction engineer. Scicolone refused to marry Villani, leaving her, a piano teacher and aspiring actress, without support. Loren's parents had another child together, her sister Maria, in 1938. Loren has two younger paternal half-brothers, Giuliano and Giuseppe. Romilda, Loren, and Maria lived with Loren's grandmother in Pozzuoli, near Naples, to survive.
During World War II, the harbor and munitions plant in Pozzuoli was a frequent bombing target of the Allies. During one raid, as Loren ran to the shelter, she was struck by shrapnel and wounded in the chin. After that, the family moved to Naples, where they were taken in by distant relatives.
After the war, Loren and her family returned to Pozzuoli. Grandmother Luisa opened a pub in their living room, selling homemade cherry liquor. Villani played the piano, Maria sang and Loren waited tables and washed dishes. The place was very popular with the American GIs stationed nearby.
When she was 14 years old, Loren entered a beauty contest in Naples and, while not winning, was selected as one of the finalists. Later she enrolled in acting class and was selected as an extra in Mervyn LeRoy's 1951 film, Quo Vadis, launching her career as a motion picture actress. She eventually changed her name to Sophia Loren.