Sophia Loren dazzled global audiences in the first ever Hollywood production shot in Greece way back in 1957. “Boy on a Dolphin” was her first role in English and captivated American audiences.
The Italian-born beauty can be credited for swinging open Greece’s doors to Hollywood and dozens of productions that followed in the aftermath.
Shot on the island of Hydra, one scene, in particular, showed her emerging from the sea in a wet dress. The scene set off a torrent of tourists rushing to visit the same island the following summer.
Still another scene, when Loren sang a love song in Greek, also captivated audiences.
Loren was touched by her experiences on Hydra. In a New York Times interview decades later, she called the tiny island one of the most beautiful place on earth, when asked by the reporter if she had any favorite places where she filmed.
“I did a picture, “The Boy on a Dolphin,” in Greece, in Hydra, one of the most beautiful places in the world. I remember it really with great, great joy. Because, for me, it was a moment of starting in the American cinema and I was starting my romance with my husband, and so I’m attached also for what I discovered in my husband. It was a beautiful, euphoric moment for me. I will never forget Hydra.”
Two years after Loren’s Greek island adventures, Elizabeth Taylor— at the peak of her fame— visited the country with her third husband Mike Todd.
It was on this trip that Taylor famously said she loved Mykonos because it was the only place in the world where people didn’t care what her hair looked like.
The couple (think super-star status without social media) posed for photos at the Acropolis and partied with Athens high society at the Grande Bretagne Hotel. Their exploits made headlines in gossip columns throughout the world.
Just weeks after their return to the United States, Todd was killed in a tragic car accident. Undeterred to to return to her favorite vacation place, Taylor returned to Greece in the summer of 1960 with her fourth husband, Eddie Fisher.
Photos of them riding donkeys on Aegina circled the world.
And as is usually the case, Hollywood stars attract high society and the rest, as they say, is history. By the early 1960s American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began visiting Greece, making her own headlines as she dazzled audiences at ancient temples and played with pelicans on picturesque islands.
Since Loren’s provocative scenes in wet dresses dozens upon dozens of films have been shot, taking advantage of the beauty and diversity of Greece.
Daryl Hannah caused a stir in a threesome scene in the film Summer Lovers, which was shot almost entirely on Santorini, while the unhappy British housewife Shirley Valentine made Mykonos a desired destination of millions of bored London housewives dreaming of their own Greek prince fisherman.
James Bond went to Greece in For Your Eyes Only and Jason Bourne did likewise in The Bourne Identity. Of course, who can forget Meryl Streep and the entire experience of Mama Mia, which put the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos on the global map.
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