Born in 1934 in Rome. Sofia Villani Scicolone, this is his real name, spent his childhood in Pozzuoli. He began his career at the age of fourteen by taking part in beauty contests, reciting novels and films in minor films under the name of Sofia Lazzaro.
Only since 1952, with “La Favorita”, choose the name of art that makes it famous in the world.
It is in the role of the exuberant pizza maker in “The Gold of Naples” in 1954, directed by Vittorio De Sica, that the actress met the great favor of the public, interpreting the character of the astute and frank, that will bring her so much success also in the following years. The turning point of his career came thanks to the meeting with the producer Carlo Ponti, who later became her husband in Mexico in 1957 and brought her to Hollywood, where she worked with the most famous directors and stars of the United States.
Their marriage caused a small scandal in the Catholic world due to a previous marriage of her husband.
But the celebrity in the international field came in 1960 with the film masterpiece of the director Vittorio De Sica “La ciociara”, based on the novel by Alberto Moravia: with the interpretation of the genuine populace victim of the violence of war, won the Oscar as best actress.
The same De Sica then wanted it in a series of exceptional Italian comedies alongside the great actor Marcello Mastroianni; to remember above all the film “Matrimonio all’italiana” taken from the comedy by Eduardo De Filippo “Filumena Marturano”.
His other significant films were “La contessa di Hong Kong” of 1967, directed by the great “Charlot” Charlie Chaplin, and “A particular day” of 1977, directed by Ettore Scola; in the latter film he played at very high levels, winning the David di Donatello, the Nastro d’argento and the Globo d’oro, playing the role of an unhappy housewife on the day when Hitler came to Rome to visit Mussolini. In 1991 People Magazine elected her among the most beautiful women in the world and received an Oscar for her career, as a recognition of her talent and her destiny as a star.
In 1999 he received the David di Donatello award for his extraordinary career in Napoli.