Sofia Villani Scicolone was born September 20, 1934 in Rome, Italy. Her childhood was in the poor neighborhoods of Pozzuoli during WWII. Her childhood was sad, but at the age of 14 she was a beauty contest and became a finalist. Sophia captured the notice of Carlo Ponti, film producer and they eventually married. She was given a contract and appeared as a movie extra in ten films. She worked her way up to supporting roles.
Sophia played lead roles in Italian movies like La Favorita in 1953 and Aida in 1953. In 1957 Sophia moved to the U.S. and stared in Boy on a Dolphin, Legend of the Lost and The Pride and the Passions. She had an affair with Cary Grant in 1957 and rejected his marriage proposals. Grant and Sophia starred together again in 1958 in Houseboat. She then starred in Desire Under the Elms, The Key and Black Orchid. In 1960 Sophia played in It Started in Naples and Hell in Pink Tights. She was also in A Breath of Scandal, The Millionairess and returned to Italy to film Two Women.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970 she made films in Italy as well as the U.S and starred opposite Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and Gregory Peck. She filmed El Cid in 1961, the Fall of the Roman Empire in 1964 and Arabesque in 1966. She was cast in Man of La Mancha in 1972 and The Cassandra Crossing in 1976. Her Italian films included Marriage Italian Style in 1964 and A Special Day in 1977. She received two Oscar nominations and won five Golden Globes.
During the 1980s Sophia spent her time raising Carlo Jr. and Eduardo. She played in five television films, ventured into other areas of business and launched her own fragrance. In 1991 Sophia obtained an Honorary Academy Award and was acknowledged as a great treasure.
In 1995 she was in Grumpier Old Men, a hit comedy, and was in Soleil 1997 and Between Strangers in 2002. She lost her husband Carlo at the age of 94 in 2007. In 2009 she appeared with Daniel Day-Lewis in Nine.