Elvis Presley and Sophia Loren: ‘I sat on his lap and kissed him’

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Just two years earlier, in 1956, Elvis had stormed the music charts and the big screen in a spectacular double-whammy. His debut single, Heartbreak Hotel, hit the top spot on the charts and was swiftly followed that year by his first movie, Love Me Tender. Three more Hollywood musicals followed, Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and Kid Creole, powered by his talent, good looks and shocking (at the time) physicality. At the same time, Sophia Loren was also causing a stir among American audiences with her exotic looks and European sexuality. What happened when the two sexiest people in the world met?

At the time Elvis was just 23 years old and preparing to leave the US for two years to complete his mandatory military service in Germany.

He was dating Hollywood starlet Anita Wood, who he would later leave for Priscilla Beaulieu, but throughout his life – whether in a relationship, married or not – The King constantly flirted and dallied with any beautiful women who crossed his path.

In February 1958, Elvis was filming Kid Creole on the Paramount movie lot when he spotted Sophia. Years later, she described how it started.


The Italian actress talked to Jonathan Ross at a special live event about their encounter.

Sophia told Jonathan Ross: “He (Elvis) was sitting in a little corner and I was doing another picture in Paramount and he said, ‘Sophia, Sophia, come, come. I want to tell you something.’

“I went and he said, ‘Sit, sit here, I will do a picture with you.’”

She patted her lap to demonstrate and added: “We did four or five pictures together, just like this.

Those images have become famous and Sophia revealed that decades later fans still send them to her house to be autographed.

The studio photographer who captured the moment, Bob Willoughby, also described it in detail, including the kiss and the revealing conversation.

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Willoughby said: “She promptly sat in his lap, gave him a kiss, and began mussing his carefully sculpted pompadour. He didn’t mind.”

Years later, Sophia explained her actions: “It’s the Neapolitan (in me).”

At the time, Sophia also told Elvis: “‘I bet you wish they (the fans) would stop screaming.”

He replied: “Never. And I’ll tell you why; they cover up my mistakes. Lots of times when I start reaching for a high note I know I’m not going to make it so I just make some crazy movement and the kids scream and no-one knows the difference.”

Elvis also unexpectedly added a very personal revelation.

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Elvis said: “The hardest thing in the World is to be yourself. Every time I’m myself I get criticized for it.”

Sophia apparently reassured him, “Elvis I think you are a very nice boy” and The King joked back: “Thanks a lot! You know that’s the worst thing you can say about me.”

It all starts to sound a little staged when Elvis also told the watching photographer and crowd: “You know, I’ve seen every picture she’s ever made. She’s only seen one of mine.”

Sophia, though, has insisted she spontaneously went over to talk to Elvis, and he certainly always had the quick with and charm to turn any situation into a crowd-pleaser, even after revealing something so personal.

The following month, in March 1958, Elvis left for military service where he would meet Priscilla in 1960.

Sophia, herself, had considerable complications in her own private life. She had been having an affair with Carlo Ponti, the man who would become her husband but was married to another woman at the time.

During 1957 and 1958, Sophia also became involved with her co-star Cary Grant, who was also married but offered to leave his wife, Betsy Drake, for her.

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