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Sophia Loren tells career, life stories at Detroit Opera House

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- Sophia Loren didn't have a lot to say on Wednesday night, Sept. 14, at the Detroit Opera House.

Then again, she really didn't have to.

The statuesque screen icon's mere physical presence seemed enough to satisfy the modest crowd that turned out for the "An Evening With..." session on Wednesday, which gave Loren a standing ovation as she was ushered on stage -- sporting a red pantsuit, high heels and glasses -- by moderator Bill Harris. Seated in a leather easy chair next to a vase filled with roses, Loren spent most of the 90-minute session fielding softballs from the "Entertainment Tonight" veteran, talking about her film roles, co-stars and a bit about her history growing up in Italy.

But she noted a couple of times that what made her happiest was spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Loren's limited facility with the English language prevented lengthy, insightful answers to questions from Harris as well as pre-submitted queries from the audience. Her secret to enduring beauty at the age of 81. "Pasta!" she quipped. (Harris led the crowd in singing an early version of "Happy Birthday" since Loren turns 82 on September 20).

And Loren -- who periodically forgot to speak into the hand-held microphone she had to use when the body mic failed to function -- became more animated when a male fan in the mezzanine boxes shouted to her in Italian, often answering him back from the stage.

She did tell a few good stories, though, mostly culled from her autobiography. Loren said that she "hated" her father and also spoke about how her mother won a Greta Garbo lookalike contest but was prevented from going to Hollywood by her parents. She talked about her decision to not travel to the Academy Awards in 1962 after being nominated for the drama "Two Women," not thinking she'd win, and then getting a late-night phone call from good friend Cary Grant that she had.

Loren recalled her fascination with well-endowned Jayne Mansfield's severely low-cut dress while attending her first big Hollywood part during the early 60s and how Frank Sinatra tried to teach her English profanities when they worked together on 1957's The Pride and the Passion." She also identified frequent co-star Marcello Mastroianni as her favorite actor to work with.

Loren also related that 60 years after being robbed of $1.5 million worth of jewelry while making 1960's "The Millionairess," she received an anonymous letter from the thief. "Of course I didn't ask him to return the jewelry," she said. "I didn't think he had them anymore."

The show was one of several Loren has been performing since 2015, many years after Grant began urging her to do it.

Wednesday's show also included the presentation of a $10,000 donation to the Opera House by Andiamo restaurant group owner Joe Vicari.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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