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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 11:53 GMT
Italian film producer Ponti dies
Carlo Ponti and Sophia Loren in 1966

Italian film producer Carlo Ponti, the husband of actress Sophia Loren, has died in Geneva at the age of 94.

He produced a number of classic films including Federico Fellini's La Strada, David Lean's Dr Zhivago and Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup.

Ponti was admitted to hospital about 10 days ago for pulmonary complications, the family said in a statement.

Ponti married Loren in 1957 when she was just 22 but the marriage was later annulled. They remarried in 1966.

"He died overnight," Loren's niece Alessandra Mussolini said. "It was a peaceful death, there was not a particular problem.

"His wife and children were with him. Sophia has always been with him throughout."

Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren lived with her husband in Geneva
The producer spotted Loren when she took part in a beauty contest when she was just 15 and he was a 37-year-old judge.

Ponti groomed her for stardom, arranging for her to study acting and take English lessons.

He changed her name and secured her roles in a number of low-budget Italian films.

Their first marriage caused huge controversy in Italy because Ponti was still married to his first wife and the Catholic Church would not let them divorce.

They were married by proxy in Mexico, with lawyers taking their places, but Ponti was charged with bigamy.

The couple moved to France and gained French citizenship, allowing Ponti to divorce and remarry Loren.

Oscar success

Around the same period, the couple were enjoying blossoming film careers.

In 1962, Loren won the best actress Oscar for Two Women (La Ciociara), produced by Ponti. Four years on, he was nominated for an Oscar for Doctor Zhivago.

"If you find the right person to be with, you have to stick to it," Loren said two years ago. "He has been a pillar all of my life."

Ponti's other well-known films included The Cassandra Crossing, The Verdict and The Squeeze.

He and Loren had two sons, Carlo Ponti Jr, music director of the San Bernardino Symphony, and film director Edoardo Ponti.

Ponti also had a son, producer Alex Ponti, with his first wife.


SEE ALSO
Obituary: Carlo Ponti
10 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Loren poses for Pirelli calendar
06 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Loren voted most beautiful
05 Nov 99 |  Entertainment

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