Sofia Villani Scicolone, Dame of the Grand Cross, OMRI (Italian: [soˈfiːa vilˈlaːni ʃʃikoˈloːne]; born 20 September 1934), known professionally as Sophia Loren (Italian: [ˈlɔːren], English: /ləˈrɛn/), is an Italian film actress and singer. She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Encouraged to enroll in acting lessons after entering a beauty pageant, Loren began her film career at age 16 in 1950. She appeared in several bit parts and minor roles in the early part of the decade, until her five-picture contract with Paramount in 1956 launched her international career. Notable film appearances around this time include The Pride and the Passion, Houseboat, and It Started in Naples.