Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 4th, 2019

Do you remember the Italian actress Sofia Loren? A review of her Memoir.

And out of chaos a star was born. A girl born already old and poor, in a poor abandoned village.

Sofia Scicolone, of the village of Pozzuoli, experienced a harsh childhood. All kinds of ignominies and brutal life, in an Italy ostracizing girls born out of wedlock.

Pozzuoli , a fishing town, ended up just a village with a manufacture of ammunition and most of the abled body worked there.

Her mother, Romilda Villani, was beautiful, tall and a professional piano player, and she resembled Greta Garbo. A team of Metro Goldwyn Meyer were searching for talents in Italy of 1934, and they selected Romilda for Hollywood at the age of 17.

Romilda’s mother, Mama Luisa, refused that she moves to Hollywood on account that foreign movie stars are assassinated by movie mafia (The Black hands), like how they assassinated Rudolph Valentino.

Romilda was Not about to remain in this village where the only factory was for munition. She traveled to Rome and fell in love with Riccardo Scicolone who made her believe that he can introduce her to the movie industry. She got pregnant and she returned to her hometown.

Mama Luisa welcomed her in the crowded house of grandparents and uncles.

Since Romilda was unable to breast feed, Mama Luisa took matter in her hands, as she usually did, and hired a lady to breast feed Sofia (called Lella at home). The entire family had to forgo of their Sunday meat in order for the lady to have meat.

Somehow, Riccardo agreed to give his name to his first child, but he refused his name for the second daughter Maria. Yes, Romilda was in love and she made all kinds of excuses to meet with Riccardo in Rome.

The entire town fled to the only tunnel to escape the constant bombing of the allied forces. They all lived for an entire year in this dark and humid tunnel.

As the Nazi forces vacated the town, the mayor ordered everyone to transfer from the village: the allied were about to bomb everything as they progressed from southern Italy.

A cousin of Romilda in Naple offered them a single room. They didn’t invite them for any family meal on account they were short on food reserves.

Sofia and Maria never stepped out of this room for 6 months.

At age 10, Sofia was still called ” Stuzzicadente” (toothpick). She barely smiled and rarely laughed. She occasionally sang with her grandmother when alone in the kitchen. Suddenly, at age 14, Sofia discovered that she transformed into a full-blown woman and enjoyed the whistling of the males on the street.

Around 1944, Mama Luisa had the idea of reserving the salon to welcome the US GI’s, serving them cherry-brandy (alcohol mixed with cherry Strega). The GI would listen to Romilda playing piano  and little Maria singing with her lovely voice. The GI’s would also bring their music records to be used on the old Victrola. And Maria learned to sing the lyrics without knowing what they meant (as any child can do).

The GI’s were parked in a camp 10 km away from Pozzuoli and they came to take showers in the municipal facilities: They had no water. Once Romilda took Sofia to the camp where the physician performed a surgery on Sofia for a scar on her chin that she got from a shrapnel when hiding in the tunnel.

For 2 years, the entire village took refuge at night in the only tunnel they had to survive the daily bombardment from the allies: they were crammed in total darkness and barely anything to cover themselves from the humidity and the cold.

Romilda dragged Sofia to every beauty context and Sofia managed to be selected second on one of the events.

And then Romilda took Sofia to Rome to introduce her to movie directors and producers. The two got a job as accessories in one movie that paid the expenses of the single room they rented.

Romilda had to leave Sofia alone as news of Maria falling very sick. And Sofia made a living in the “fumetti”, kind of cartoons during summer TV series.

When Romilda was back to Rome with Maria, Maria was left alone for 2 years in that room since Romilda had this idee-fix that Sofia must become a star in movies and they both went out early morning to return late at night.

Once, Sofia was having a night out with her friends and a beauty contest was in the program. Carlo Ponti was in the jury and he pressured Sofia to join the context. She was selected second with prizes.

Carlo Ponti asked her to walk with him in the garden and gave her his visiting card, telling her that he was one of the known discoverer of potential actresses like Anna Magnani, Silvia Koscina, Alida Valida and Gina Lollobrigida….

For 2 years, Sofia acted in second roles as she her physic was Not adequate to main roles: she had a long nose and wide hips.

Sofia was adamant with Ponti: she will Not have a nose job, but she agreed for a name change: Sophia Loren. As in Italy the ph is pronounced p, Sophia was called Sopia.

Yalla, I am not about to re-write the entire memoir. But maybe I might update this article as I finish reading the book.

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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