The True Story Behind Sophia Loren’s Iconic Side-Eye to Jayne Mansfield
"When we decided to put together a book of the 100 best celebrity photos, honestly, the first photo that came to mind was this one," Cagle says
The photo of Sophia Loren staring daggers in the direction of Jayne Mansfield’s cleavage was taken 60 years ago, but it continues to loom large as one of the most iconic images in Hollywood history.
Now, the image is being featured in PEOPLE’s 100 Best Celebrity Photos, a new book from the editors of PEOPLE, with an introduction by PEOPLE Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle
“When we decided to put together a book of the 100 best celebrity photos, honestly, the first photo that came to mind was this one,” Cagle says in the video above.
In 1957, Loren “had just signed a deal with Paramount and had come to California, and Paramount threw a big welcome party for her in Beverly Hills and Jayne Mansfield was on the guest list,” Cagle explains.
- PEOPLE’s 100 Best Celebrity Photos is now available wherever books are sold
Just a few years ago, Loren, 83, explained her expression in the photo in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “She came right for my table. She knew everyone was watching. She sat down. And now, she was barely … Listen. Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate,” she said.
“In my face you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table,” she added.
While the two women can be seen laughing and smiling together in other photos from the night, Loren made it clear that this photo best represents the situation. “There may be other photos, but this is the picture. This is the one that shows how it was. This is the only picture,” she explained.
All these years later, Loren said she’s still asked to autograph the photo. “Many, many times I am given this photo to autograph it,” she said. “And I never do. I don’t want to have anything to do with that. And also out of respect for Jayne Mansfield because she’s not with us anymore.” (Mansfield died in 1967).