Sophia Loren says she was shocked by Jayne Mansfield at a 1957 party.
Moviestore Collection/Rex/REX USA
Sophia Loren says she was shocked by Jayne Mansfield at a 1957 party.

Story highlights

Sophia Loren: Side-eye in photo showed shock, fear

Was worried that Mansfield's nipples were "about to come onto my plate"

Loren was new to Hollywood; Mansfield was established star

Loren's memoir was just released

(CNN) —  

It’s a famous photograph: Sophia Loren, seated at a table, looking with side-eyed concern at Jayne Mansfield’s breasts, which threaten to spill out of her low-cut dress.

The 1957 photo, which was taken when the Italian film star was new to Hollywood, shows Loren as shocked and frightened – and she absolutely was, she tells Entertainment Weekly.

“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 told the magazine. “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.”

Loren, now 80, was 23 at the time, a beauty who’d dazzled at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. Mansfield, perhaps known today as the mother of “Law & Order: SVU’s” Mariska Hargitay, was making her name as the blonde bombshell star of “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”

She knew how to make an entrance, recalled Loren.

“Paramount had organized a party for me. All of cinema was there; it was incredible,” she said. “And then comes in Jayne Mansfield, the last one to come. … She came right for my table. She knew everyone was watching.”

Indeed, there are a number of other photographs of Mansfield’s arrival, many showing Loren smiling. But Loren says that the only one accurately showing her mood is the side-eye.

She won’t even sign it – partly out of respect for Mansfield, who died in a car crash in 1967, and partly because it frankly makes her uncomfortable.

“Many, many times I am given this photo to autograph it. And I never do,” she said. “I don’t want to have anything to do with that.”

Loren’s memoir, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: My Life,” was released Tuesday.