Sophia Loren has left fans confused about her relationship with Cary Grant. The actress met Cary while working on the 1957 film The Pride and the Passion and she has admitted they grew very close despite the fact that she was secretly engaged to Carlo Ponti and he was married to his third wife Betsy Drake.
While Sophia has been open about their affair, she insisted to the Radio Times that "he didn’t propose" on set. However, she clarified in her 2014 memoir, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life that after their last day of filming, the To Catch a Thief star proposed at sunset, but she turned him down to continue a relationship with Carlo.
"It was hard to resist the magnetism of a man like Cary, who said he was willing to give up everything for me. On our last night, he invited me out, looking more solemn than usual. Inside, I was afraid.
"There was a gorgeous sunset outside as he turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said simply: 'Will you marry me?' My words got caught in my throat. I was like an actress in a movie who’s forgotten her lines."
She went on to explain she told Cary she needed time to think about the decision, and he reportedly responded that he wanted to get married first and think about it later.
In the same book, Sophia opened up about how her feelings developed for Cary. "I was charmed by his dry wit, his wisdom, his affectionate manner, his experience… We started spending more and more time together," she said, before detailing dinners on the Ávila hills where they listened to flamenco.
Despite his romantic marriage offer, Sophia made the decision to marry Carlo after stating Cary belonged to "another world".
"I had to make a choice, Carlo was Italian; he belonged to my world. I know it was the right thing to do, for me," she told Vanity Fair. "At the time I didn’t have any regrets, I was in love with my husband. I was very affectionate with Cary, but I was 23 years old. I couldn’t make up my mind to marry a giant from another country and leave Carlo. I didn’t feel like making the big step."
Sophia met Italian film director Carlo aged 16 in 1950 when he was married to his first wife Giuliana Fiastri. They fell in love while filming the 1954 film Woman Of The River, but it was difficult for Carlo to get a divorce in religious Italy.
Carlo got around the issue by getting an annulment in Mexico before marrying Sophia by proxy in 1957, but their marriage was annulled five years later after Carlo faced charges of bigamy. Carlo obtained a legal divorce while living in France and the couple married for the second time in 1965.
They welcomed sons Carlo Jr. in 1968 followed by Edoardo in 1973, and enjoyed a 42-year marriage before Carlo died aged 94 in 2007.