Inside Sophia Loren And John Wayne's Relationship

Sophia Loren was born into poverty on September 30, 1934, and grew up in a town near Naples, in the south of Italy, as Biography writes. This was, of course, before she became a statuesque empress of impeccable beauty and talent. It wasn't until the age of 16 that onlookers encouraged her to take on a career in the spotlight after she stunned audience members at a local beauty pageant in 1940 (via Classic Country Music)

Ventures in American and foreign cinema brought Sophia Loren into the realm of fame and public adoration. She melted hearts and sold out theaters across the world (per IMDb). In 1957, Loren took on one of her first English-speaking roles when she appeared in Henry Hathaway's "Legend of the Lost." Despite being a major star already, the Italian actress was faced with significant hurdles when she climbed aboard the project. Delivering the entirety of her dialogue in a foreign language was a tremendously daunting endeavor, but lucky for her, she had the greatest hero in the west on her side: John Wayne himself, as TheWrap reports. 

How Sophia Loren felt about John Wayne

"I was working with John Wayne on "Legend of the Lost." One of my first English-speaking roles. My English was not great, the crew would sometimes make fun of me, but John Wayne always would stick up for me." Sophia Loren told TheWrap in 2021. Luckily for her, she had more than just one hero on her side throughout the filming process. While passing the night in a small hotel near the set, Loren woke with a throbbing headache and crippling nausea. It turned out that the gasoline stove in her room was leaking which could have easily asphyxiated her, had she not woken up (per The Mix). 

"I managed to crawl on my knees to the door and open it, but then I collapsed, " the legendary actress recalled in harrowing detail. By a stroke of miraculous luck, Rossano Brazzi — her other co-star in "Legend of the Lost" — was passing by her room when he burst in and saved her life (via The Mix). 

How John Wayne felt about Sophia Loren

"This girl, she laughs and she's very happy, leave her alone, don't bother her ..." words from The Duke himself in defense of his Neopolitan co-star were never spared during the filming of "Legend of the Lost." By means of commemorating their time together, John Wayne reportedly gifted Sophia Loren with a pair of his iconic spurs that she kept by her side for many years to follow (via Purple Clover). 

As it turned out, "Legend of the Lost" was the only picture that would bring the unlikely pairing of John Wayne and Sophia Loren together on the big screen — it was also the only film Wayne ever made with Rosanno Brazzi (per IMDb). Today, at the age of 87, Loren remains present in the acting world. Wayne tragically passed away on June 11, 1979, at the age of 72 from cancer, as History notes.