IT’S often been forgotten that Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren were born within eight days of each other, in September 1934.

Ten years ago, when Loren turned 75, Bardot sent her best wishes while advancing her own animal-rights crusade: “I wish a happy birthday to Sophia Loren, my splendid twin, and I ask her to stop wearing fur – that is the best gift she could offer me”.

Of Loren, the book Movie Star Chronicles says: “She is ... regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the history of cinema”. Among her dozens of notable films was Two Women (1960), for which she won an Oscar.

Of Bardot, the book observes that she was “possibly more significant as a phenomenon than as an actress” but that she loathed her so-called “sex-kitten” image and longed “to be taken seriously as an actress”.

In September 1966 a small group of people clustered outside the Open Arms Hotel in Dirleton, East Lothian, hoping for a glimpse of Bardot.

She was starring in a French film, Two Weeks In September, alongside James Robertson Justice - the “story of a woman torn between her love for two different men”, says the website,

The Glasgow Herald noted she had arrived in Dirleton about 5am and danced “delightedly at the welcoming fire in the sitting-room of her suite at the Open Arms”.

She had, just a few hours earlier, been involved in a contretemps over a bill at a hotel in Carlisle; the manager there said she did not seem to enjoy the meal and announced she was leaving. When he asked her to settle the bill, she is said to have replied: “With all this publicity about my arrival your hotel has got enough reward”.

The manager said she had paid up then stormed out of the hotel without a word.

Read more: Herald Diary

When Loren arrived in Glasgow in December 1982 to promote a new perfume named after her, the journalists assembled in the Albany Hotel wanted to put one particular question to her.

“Can you say it’s a braw, bricht moonlicht nicht?” they asked. She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Nicht”, she mused. “Isn’t that German?”

The middle-aged journalists, as one, replied that it wasn’t. “Oh well”, Loren said, adding that the Scottish accent must be like the Neapolitan one – incomprehensible except to those who were thoroughly familiar with it.

In fact, the reporters and photographers had initially seemed to be tongue-tied in her presence. “No-one talks, no-one makes me laugh”, Loren coaxed. At length, a reporter ventured to ask her about that traditional standby, the weather.

“I can’t live without the sun”, she said with a shudder, eliciting a sympathetic shudder from the journalists. “When I don’t see it, I get very depressed”.

She spoke of her future films, of the role that love had played in her life, and of her current home in Switzerland, not far from Charlie Chaplin’s old home in Geneva.

A 19-year-old waitress at the hotel eyed Loren critically.

“She’s not bad looking”, was her verdict. “A bit pale, I thought”.