The screen legend is celebrating a landmark birthday on Saturday
Credit: Oleg Nikishin/Getty

Sophia Loren‘s beauty and talent is exceeded only by her wit and wisdom – and after an 80-year journey from rags to riches, the Italian screen legend has seen it all.

Born on Sept. 20, 1934, to an unwed mother from a poor family in pre-war Italy, her early life was a far cry from the movie diva she was destined to become.

After barely surviving the devastation that befell her town during WWII (she still bares a scar on her chin from the bombings), Sophia tapped her real-life experiences to play a young widow struggling to save her child in war-torn Italy in Vittorio De Sica’s 1960 film Two Women.

The film became an international success, and earned Loren an Oscar for her work – the first for Best Actress for a non-English-speaking role.

From there, the mother-of-two went on to become one of the world’s most recognizable sex symbols, appearing in more than 90 films.

Here are some of Sophia Loren’s greatest quotes and insights:

• “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

• “The two big advantages I had at birth were to have been born wise and to have been born in poverty.”

• “You have to enjoy life. Always be surrounded by people that you like, people who have a nice conversation. There are so many positive things to think about.”

• “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself, and once for her child.”

• “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”

• “A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”

• “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”

• “Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.”

• “I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.”

• “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.”

• “If you haven’t cried, your eyes can’t be beautiful.”

• “Mistakes are a part of the dues one pays for a full life.”

• “I think the quality of sexiness comes from within. It is something that is in you or it isn’t, and it really doesn’t have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips.”

• “Sex is like washing your face – just something you do because you have to. Sex without love is absolutely ridiculous. Sex follows love, it never precedes it.”

• “Many people think they want things, but they don’t really have the strength, the discipline. They are weak. I believe that you get what you want if you want it badly enough.”

• “You have to be born a sex symbol. You don’t become one. If you’re born with it, you’ll have it even when you’re 100 years old.”

• “Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go so much further than people with vastly superior talent.”

• “I’m a giraffe. I even walk like a giraffe with a long neck and legs. It’s a pretty dumb animal, mind you.”

• “Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.”

• “It’s a mistake to think that once you’re done with school you need never learn anything new.”

• “You must all, somewhere deep in your hearts, believe that you have a special beauty that is like no other and that is so valuable that you must not abandon it. Indeed, you must learn to cherish it.”

• “At the dressing table, every woman has a chance to be an artist, and art, as Aristotle said, ‘completes what nature left unfinished.’ ”

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