They were they "eye-daggers" heard round the world.
OK, maybe nobody heard anything, but the public got and eye-full when a photographer captured this famous shot of Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield. There’s a laundry list of things to unpack here, but what stuck out to most was Sophia’s openly incredulous look thrown in the direction of what was filling out Jayne’s gorgeous dress. It’s become one of the most talked-about celeb photos in history, but up until this point, people could only guess at Miss Loren’s inner monologue.
Her career just taking off, the night this famous photo of Sophia was shot was a big one.
People‘s editorial director Jess Cagle says of the shot, “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.”
And for good reason. This sultry snap was taken on the evening of a luxurious party thrown to celebrate Sophia Loren’s deal she’d just signed with Paramount. The stunning Italian actress was ready to soak up all the attention that star-studded night.
A little backstory is important to understand the loaded photo.
To the casual observer, especially now that so much time has passed, it looks like Sophia Loren is simply giving Jayne Mansfield the stink-eye for no reason. But now that Miss Loren is finally commenting on the notorious photograph, it seems as though any ill-will was wrongly assumed. She says of the blond bombshell’s arrival, “All of cinema was there, it was incredible. And then comes in Jayne Mansfield, the last one to come. For me, that was then it got amazing.”
Jayne was on the guest list, but no one expected her to make such an entrance.
Loren now makes it clear that the photo wasn’t her throwing serious shade at her lovely table guest, but instead, the sidelong glance was more along the lines of worrying about … umm … wardrobe malfunction:
“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. 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.”
Even after all this time, the famous photo still piques the interest of everyday fans.
Decades later, Loren says fans still come up and ask her to autograph one of her most famous photos of all time. We can’t blame them; that would be an amazing piece of celebrity memorabilia to sock away. But the superstar always refuses this request. Why? She respects Jayne’s memory too much.
Of turning down the chance to scrawl her moniker, she says, “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.”