It was Clark Gable, her costar in the 1960 romantic comedy It Started In Naples, who tartly observed that the beauteous, then 26-year-old Sophia Loren “makes you think all the wrong thoughts.”

Loren, who turns 81 next month (specifically on Sept. 20), remains a remarkable head turner who still can command lots of attention.  When Ms. Loren celebrated her 80th birthday last September, the Italian newspapers succombed to a collective fit of editorial rapture on a scale not seen, well, since she turned 70, wrote The Wall Street Journal last weekend.

The actress newly came to the newspaper’s attention for her first-ever ad campaign this fall for a line of a prominent European designer’s beauty products, notably a cherry-red lipstick she designed in collaboration with the firm.  Take a look at that sensuous mouth above, and you’ll see why Loren is a good choice for a glossy lipstick promotion.

But there were hurdles.  When asked about challenges in making the lipstick line she is endorsing, Loren told WSJ:  One challenge was my lips.  They are very dark.  So when we worked together to find the right shade, we had to make sure that when you put it on my lips it showed the shade were were looking for.

Oh, the travails of international cosmetics commerce!

Loren was less forthcoming about whether her leading men regularly fell in love with her. Her crisp response:  “No.”

We seriously doubt that.  In fact, one of her leading men — Cary Grant — famously asked Loren to marry him.  One problem — she was tied to her producer, Carlo Ponti, with whom she had two sons.  Ponti, who was more than two decades older than Sophia, died eight years ago.

At this stage of the game, Loren is a combination of Merry Widow, fawning grandma, international star and woman branching out.  I’ve never done a fashion ad campaign before, she told the Journal, although I have been asked to do a lot of them, my mind was always on acting.

Now, she admits candidly, finding new (acting roles) is sometimes not so easy.  I have to really look, because when you reach a certain age you cannot just do anything. You always like to find a character that suits you as a person, and your age. 

In wishing Loren an advance happy 81st birthday, we trust she’ll keep on looking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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