Wednesday, January 10, 2007

la dolce-amaro vita

The good news is that you're married to Sophia Loren, but Italy disapproves and confiscates your art collection:

ROME (AP) -- Italian producer Carlo Ponti, who discovered a teenage Sophia Loren, launched her film career and later married her despite threats of bigamy charges and excommunication, has died in Geneva. He was 94.

....''I have done everything for love of Sophia,'' he said in a newspaper interview shortly before his 90th birthday in 2002. ''I have always believed in her.''

Except for a couple of times that is:

Ponti discovered many of the great Italian leading ladies, including Gina Lollobrigida, and had affairs with several. ''I don't like actors. I prefer women,'' he said at the time.

Along the way things, at times, got sticky:

He was briefly imprisoned in by the Fascist government in Italy during World War II for producing ''Piccolo Mondo Antico,'' which was considered anti-German. An Italian court later gave Ponti a six-month suspended sentence for his 1973 film ''Massacre in Rome,'' which claimed Pope Pius XII did nothing about the execution of Italian hostages by the Germans. The charges eventually were dropped on appeal.

....In 1979, a court in Rome convicted him in absentia of the illegal transfer of capital abroad and sentenced him to four years in prison and a $24 million fine.

Loren, along with film stars Ava Gardner and Richard Harris, were acquitted of conspiracy.

It took Ponti until the late 1980s to settle his legal problems and finally obtain the return of his art collection, which had been seized by authorities and given to Italian museums.

He also survived two kidnapping attempts in 1975.

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