LIFE always realized the sales value of a little sex. Seldom did an issue of Life miss the opportunity to include partially clad women, sometimes under cover of a story on Hollywood or thinly veiled as a fashion piece on the season’s swimwear. Though this practice opened the magazine to criticism from some fronts, its impact on sales was undeniable. However, in September 1966, the photo of Sophia Loren—the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s favorite model—wearing a negligee made the cover. It caused many Life readers to cancel their subscriptions.
During the 1960s, Loren was one of the most popular actresses in the world, in 1964, she received $1 million to act in The Fall of the Roman Empire. Despite the failure of her films to generate sales at the box office, Sophia Loren was a darling of studios, and worn some of the most lavish costumes ever created for the movies. The above photo was taken on the set for 1964 film Matrimonio all’italiana, starring Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.