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Oscar's Living Legends

All four of the acting winners from 50 years ago — Sophia Loren, Maximillian Schell, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris — recall the golden night the Academy called out their names

Sophia Loren
Best Actress, Two Women
After playing a young mother in WWII Italy in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, Sophia Loren became the first performer to be nominated and win for a foreign-language role. ''I thought I was too young to play her because I was 25 years old and she had a daughter of 14,'' recalls Loren, now 77 and living in Geneva. ''It was a big step in my career because, instead of doing little comedies here and there, it started to be serious. But I knew about World War II and misery and hunger and illnesses and tragedies, because I experienced them. Me and my family. We walked around like two fous, like two crazy women, my mother and I, just like we did in the movie.''

Despite her unprecedented nomination, Loren opted not to attend the ceremony. (And while she left an empty seat again three years later when she was nominated for Marriage Italian Style, Loren made sure to pick up her 1991 Honorary Award in person.) ''I didn't even think that I would win, it wasn't possible,'' she says. ''I didn't come to the Oscar ceremony because I thought, 'If I win, I'm going to faint, so it would be better if I faint at home where nobody can see me than on the stage.' '' Still, she sat at home with her husband, producer Carlo Ponti, in case the phone should ring with news. ''When it was 6 o'clock in the morning in Italy, we said, 'Maybe the ceremony is over. I must have lost.' And then, about maybe a half hour later, the telephone rang and it was Cary Grant on the phone and he said to my husband, 'Sophia won.' And my husband didn't speak a word of English, so he said, 'Che cosa? Sophia win? Sophia win!' And that's how I found out.'' Soon after, the Italian press was at her door. ''So I said, 'Come up.' I was still in my nightgown,'' she says. ''I didn't care at all. At 27, to win an Oscar, my God! Coming from Pozzuoli, Naples, I mean, can you imagine? It was a fairy tale.''

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