Occasional Quote of the Day: A One-Woman Positivity Machine

There is a fountain of youth: it is in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. — Sofia Villani Scicolone

And there is much more from the young woman who once competed in the Miss Italia competition (shown at right). She won the title of Miss Elegance 1950, and she returned to the pageant fifty-one years later to crown the winner for 2001.

Any woman can look her best if she feels good in her skin. It’s not a question of clothes or makeup. It’s how she sparkles.

I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.

Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.

If you can learn to use your mind as well as your powder puff, you will become more truly beautiful.

I have my own peculiar yardstick for measuring a man: Does he have the courage to cry in a moment of grief? Does he have the compassion not to hunt an animal? In his relationship with a woman, is he gentle? Real manliness is nurtured in kindness and gentleness, which I associate with intelligence, comprehension, tolerance, justice, education, and high morality. If only men realized how easy it is to open a woman’s heart with kindness, and how many women close their hearts to the assaults of the Don Juans.

I think the quality of sexiness comes from within. It is something that is in you or it isn’t and it really doesn’t have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips.

Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.

Everything I am, I owe to pasta.

You have to enjoy life. Always be surrounded by people that you like, people who have a nice conversation. There are so many positive things to think about.

The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love for those you are cooking for.

And, perhaps my favorite of all time–

Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.

(To which I add, RWKJ’s corollary: “If you’re a woman who’s telling yourself you’re not beautiful, please stop. And, BTW, any woman whose friend tells her she’s not beautiful and that she doesn’t deserve to be treated well, needs to find another friend. Pronto! As it were.”)

The woman responsible for all the marvelous thoughts listed above was born in Pozzuoli, Italy on September 20, 1934 to a young piano teacher and a construction worker. Her parents never married; in fact, her father deserted his girlfriend and her infant daughter when Sofia was four, after the birth of her younger sister. She visited his deathbed many years later, to forgive him, but said that she did not forget. (That’s the spirit! Or so I’ve always thought.)

During the war, Sofia, her mother, and her sister moved to Naples to escape the frequent Allied bombing attacks on Pozzuoli, moving back after the war to her family’s pub selling homemade liquor, at which Sofia’s first job was as a waitress and dishwasher.

She was a striking young woman, and won, or placed highly in several local and national beauty contests, and when she was seventeen, changed her name to Sofia Lazzaro, went to acting school and earned several bit parts in low-budget Italian movies. She didn’t achieve much success until she met her future husband in the early 1950s and underwent yet another name change, after which her prospects improved, and she came to Hollywood in 1958. Most of her early roles were comedic and light, and made use of her manifest physical attractions, but in 1960 she starred against type in a drama of wartime Italy, playing the mother of a twelve-year-old girl, both of whom were tragically affected by life and circumstance. Her performance won her the year’s Oscar for Best Actress, the first time such an award had gone to an actor for a non-English speaking role.

After that, her career really took off. (With a few notable flubs. One is the movie I deem a worthy candidate for the worst film of all time, Brass Target, whose all-star cast could not save it from an absurd plot, and the creaky, mind-numbing tedium of its delivery. Such a waste, on all counts.) As of this writing, she’s appeared in over forty films.

In 1957, she married the man who’d changed her screen name for the last time. The “marriage” was by proxy, and was of dubious provenance as the groom was legally still married to his first wife. The marriage was later annulled to avoid bigamy charges, and, after all the obstacles were cleared away and French President Georges Pompidou approved their application, the couple remarried in France in 1966. They had two children, after whose birth “mom” slowed down her acting career to tend to her family, and they remained married until he died in 2007.

Such beauty. Such wisdom. Such intelligence. And such obvious humor and goodwill. Inside and out.

The woman the world knows as Sophia Loren is 85 years old today, September 20, 2019. Happy Birthday!

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. — Sophia Loren

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