Performing stunts and remembering difficult lines make an actor’s job complicated. The emotions it brings up can make it unbearable. The fact that it’s all fake can be the worst part. Consider the stars of Houseboat, Cary Grant Film, and Sophia Loren. They wanted to stay together forever but had to walk down a fake aisle. Legal issues and scandals kept them from being able to let art mirror life. Their fans can only imagine what it would have been like by the clear chemistry in their eyes.
Keep watching to learn about the hardest scene Cary Grant ever had to film.
Before They Were Cary and Sophia
Sophia Loren and Cary Grant both ended up as Hollywood royalty, but they came from different worlds. One came from actual European nobility, and the other was a simple boy from a small town in England.
The chances of them meeting and igniting one of Hollywood’s most famous affairs seem almost impossible. The fact that they shared the same dream and rose to fame at around the same time is the main reason.
Sophia’s Early Life
Sophia Villani Scicolone was born in Rome, Italy on September 20, 1934. She had connections to nobility on her father’s side. He abandoned the family when she was a baby and she only saw him three times in her life. She also saw the impact of WWII on her country and lived in poverty.
Sophia began acting in the early 1950s after enrolling in the national films school of Italy. She got her first role as an uncredited extra when she was 16 and then had a few bit parts.
Her breakout role was The Gold of Naples in 1954. She became an international star in 1958 when she signed a five-picture contract with Paramount Pictures.
Cary’s Early Life
Archibald Leach was born in Bristol, England on January 18, 1904. His father had his mother committed to a psychiatric hospital due to her manic episodes and depression. He told his son that she’d died, and he didn’t discover the truth until he was 31.
The rest of his childhood was spent at his unattentive grandmother’s house with his father always away. His sanctuary was the movie theater, and that’s where he fell in love with acting.
Archibald joined the Pender Troup comedians and acrobats when he was 14. His father dragged him home and forced him to return to school, but he got himself expelled in order to follow his dreams.
He moved to America when he was 16. After decades of odd jobs and flop films, he got a contract with Paramount. They wanted to change his name, saying it didn’t sound right in America. He’d always struggled with his identity and quipped that it didn’t sound right in Britain either. They eventually settled on rebranding him as Cary Grant.
His big break was starring alongside Mae West in 1993’s She Done Him Wrong. After that, he became one of the biggest names in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
When Sophia Met Carlo
Sophia Loren was an Italian gem who worked alongside handsome leading men such as Marlon Brando and Richard Burton. She was also introduced to plenty of important behind-the-scenes personas.
She met producer Carlo Ponti in 1950 when she was 16 and he was 37. He was on the jury at a beauty contest in Rome and clearly thought she was a winner.
They were an official item by the time she was 19. The couple was secretly engaged in 1953. She dreamed of having a legitimate family and raising his two children.
The only problem was that he wasn’t technically divorced from his first wife Giuliana. Italian Catholican society in the 1950s didn’t permit divorce. It may have been that technicality that left room open for an affair.
When Sophia Met Cary
Sophia Loren and Cary Grant met at a cocktail party in Madrid in 1956. He looked as though he’d “just stepped down from the screen” and was “a dream come true.” He was 30 years older than her, but she also found his slightly graying hair attractive.
They worked on the 1957 film The Pride and the Passion together. They bonded, and a friendship bloomed into love.
He’d write her letters and offer her gifts. They’d eat dinners together and talk for hours. She thought of him as wonderful, charming, and handsome, but being with him would cause a major scandal because she’d have to leave Carlo. She also wanted to avoid what the press did to Ingrid Bergman during her affair.
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That Difficult Scene
Cary Grant had to film a few difficult scenes in his career. One of the most famous was the one where he had to duck under an incoming plane in North by Northwest.
They may have been physically demanding, but they weren’t impossible. His early acrobatic experience meant he could do almost all of his own stunts. His most difficult scene was challenging on an emotional level.
Cary’s affair with Sophia caused a major shift in the casting of the 1958 film The Houseboat. Carlo most likely knew about it and asked for her to replace Betsy Drake as the lead. She was Cary’s third wife and had written the original script.
The ending was perhaps the hardest scene Cary Grant ever had to film. He had to pretend to get married to the woman he loved.
The most ironic part of it all was that Sophia said in later interviews that her one regret in her life was that she never had a white wedding. If life had been a bit different, she could have had a real one with Cary just like in the movie.
There were plenty of rumors that Cary did propose to Sophia on the set of The Pride and the Passion. In a 2020 interview with Radio Times, she told the world whether or not this was true.
She, like any woman in the world, didn’t deny that he was a handsome man and a wonderful actor. What she did say was that he didn’t propose. It would have been impossible due to their 30-year age gap. She was too young to form clear ideas about love and relationships. There was also the fact that he was still married.
Why She Chose Ponti
Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti were “married by proxy” in Mexico in 1957. This was meant to invalidate his original marriage without getting a divorce. The Vatican condemned it, calling it illegal and accusing them of bigamy. They had to defend themselves for almost a decade until they were exiled and lived in Frances and Switzerland. He finally got a legal divorce in 1965, making their marriage official.
When she left the set of Houseboat, she boasted to Carlo about the yellow roses Cary had given her. She believes it was a way to test their relationship. If he didn’t get jealous, he didn’t care. He did and hit her slightly, but it made her feel as if she’d made the right choice.
Despite early struggles with fertility, Sophia had two sons, Carlo Jr. in 1968 and Edorado in 1973 as well as four grandchildren. The couple stayed married until he died in 2007.
Cary wished her the best when he heard the news. Sophia explained why she chose Carlo over him in a 2014 interview with the Sidney Morning Herald. To her, he “belonged to another world in America” that she would never be able to fit into because of her nationality. She even needed his help with English in her early films. A language barrier was only one of the many ways they were too different to stay together.
Cary’s Love Life
Cary Grant always seemed to know what to say or do to charm women; the persona of James Bond was modeled after him. What he didn’t seem to know was how to keep them, whether they were a short-term fling or a passionate affair. It wasn’t until the end of his life that he seemed to find a compatible partner.
He married Virginia Cherill in 1934. When he married Barbara Hutton in 1942, they argued over money and had a contentious divorce. Betsy Drake, of course, was his wife while he had an affair with Sophia.
Cary’s fourth marriage was to Dyan Cannon in 1965. She was the mother of his only child Jennifer, who was born in 1966. He was a loving father and even retired from Hollywood to become a businessman instead.
When he changed careers, he also changed as a husband. Dyan detailed their relationship in a memoir titled Dear Cary. She notes an initial attraction but said that he began to become angry, controlling, and physically withdrawn. They split up in 1986.
Cary was married one more time to Barbara Harris. They met on a business trip to London and had a long-distance relationship until she moved to California to be with him. He asked for his daughter’s permission before marrying her, and they had a small wedding. His friend Prince Rainer of Monaco said he was happier than ever. They stayed together until his death.
He once said that each new marriage was more difficult and that it was almost masochistic of him to keep getting married again. Also, he seemed to want to keep memories of them all. He has a necklace with a St. Christopher Medalion to represent Virgina Cherill who was Roman Catholic, a cross for Barbara Hutton and Bettsy Drake who were Protestant, and a Star of David for Dyan Cannon who was Jewish. It even shows up in a few of his films.
Their Last Years
One of the last times Sophia and Cary ever spoke was on the set of the Italian film Two Women. He called her and said he just wanted to say “ciao.” She believes he must have known it would be his last chance.
Cary Grant died at the age of 82 in 1986. His ashes were spread in the Atlantic Ocean. His daughter and wife inherited most of his $60-$80 million estate.
Cary was voted #1 in Greatest Movies Stars of All Time by Premiere Magazine in 2005 and #2 by the American Film Institute in 1999. There’s a bronze statue of him in his hometown of Bristol commemorated in 2001 as well as other street art in his honor throughout the city.
Sophia Loren is 88 years old and worked on her most recent film, The Life Ahead, in 2020. Her impact on the world as the Italian queen of Tinseltown is just as powerful.
What’s your favorite tale of a Hollywood affair? Let us know in the comments.