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BIOGRAPHY

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA

Francis Ford CoppolaProducer | Director | Writer


Date of Birth 7 April 1939, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)


Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola (née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated with a degree in drama from Hofstra University, and did graduate work at UCLA in filmmaking. He was training as assistant with filmmaker Roger Corman, working in such capacities as sound-man, dialogue director, associate producer and, eventually, director of Dementia 13 (1963), Coppola's first feature film. During the next four years, Coppola was involved in a variety of script collaborations, including writing an adaptation of "This Property is Condemned" by Tennessee Williams (with Fred Coe and Edith Sommer), and screenplays for Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Patton (1970), the film for which Coppola won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. In 1966, Coppola's 2nd film brought him critical acclaim and a Master of Fine Arts degree. In 1969, Coppola and George Lucas established American Zoetrope, an independent film production company based in San Francisco. The company's first project was THX 1138 (1971), produced by Coppola and directed by Lucas. Coppola also produced the second film that Lucas directed, American Graffiti (1973), in 1973. This movie got five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. In 1971, Coppola's film The Godfather (1972) became one of the highest-grossing movies in history and brought him an Oscar for writing the screenplay with Mario Puzo The film was a Best Picture Academy Award-winner, and also brought Coppola a Best Director Oscar nomination. Following his work on the screenplay for The Great Gatsby (1974), Coppola's next film was The Conversation (1974), which was honored with the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and brought Coppola Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations. Also released that year, The Godfather: Part II (1974), rivaled the success of The Godfather (1972), and won six Academy Awards, bringing Coppola Oscars as a producer, director and writer. Coppola then began work on his most ambitious film, Apocalypse Now (1979), a Vietnam War epic that was inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1993). Released in 1979, the acclaimed film won a Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and two Academy Awards. Also that year, Coppola executive produced the hit The Black Stallion (1979). With George Lucas, Coppola executive produced Kagemusha (1980), directed by Akira Kurosawa, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), directed by Paul Schrader and based on the life and writings of Yukio Mishima. Coppola also executive produced such films as The Escape Artist (1982), Hammett (1982) The Black Stallion Returns (1983), Barfly (1987), Wind (1992), The Secret Garden (1993), etc.

He helped to make a star of his nephew, Nicolas Cage. Personal tragedy hit in 1986 when his son Gio died in a boating accident. Francis Ford Coppola is one of America's most erratic, energetic and controversial filmmakers.


Spouse (1)

Eleanor Coppola (2 February 1963 - present) (3 children)

Often casts his own real-life extended family members in his films. In the case of the Godfather films, their characters' relationships to "Michael Corleone" often paralleled their real-life relationship to Coppola. He cast his sister, Talia Shire, as Michael's sister Connie, and his daughter, Sofia Coppola, as Michael's daughter Mary - named for Coppola's other daughter. In addition, Diane Keaton said that she modeled her performance as Kay Adams after Elanor Coppola, since both Kay and Coppola are protestants who married into Italian Catholic families.
Includes the original author's name in the title of his adaptations (i.e., Mario Puzo's The Godfather (1972), Bram Stoker's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)).
Releases re-edited versions of his work years later (e.g., The Godfather (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979)).
Often works with cinematographer Gordon Willis and producers Fred Roos and Gray Frederickson.
Frequently casts Robert Duvall, the late John Cazale, Nicolas Cage, Diane Keaton, Matt Dillon, Harrison Ford, Laurence Fishburne and Marlon Brando.
Beard
Protagonists are tough inside who want change the world around, more often than not for selfish reasons.


Caught polio when he was a child. During his quarantine, he practiced puppetry.
Some sources say he is the uncle of Alan Coppola, but Alan's name does not appear on any family tree authorized by the Coppola family.
Like Martin Scorsese, Coppola was a sickly youth, a case of polio which allowed him time to indulge in puppet theater and home movies.
Middle brother of Talia Shire and August Coppola.
Father of Sofia Coppola, Roman Coppola and Gian-Carlo Coppola.
Son of composer Carmine Coppola and Italia Coppola.
Received an M.F.A. in Film Production from the University of California in Los Angeles (1967).
Since 1978, owner and operator of a Rutherford, California vineyard making Rubicon wine.
Coppola began his winery enterprise by buying a portion of the historic Inglenook estate in 1975. His success in the field is explored in the book "A Sense of Place" by Steven Kolpan, 1999.
Brother-in-law of Bill Neil.
Was in the early stages of developing a script for a fourth Godfather film with Mario Puzo which was to tell the story of the early lives of Sonny, Fredo and Michael. After Puzo's death in July of 1999, Coppola abandoned the project, stating that he couldn't do it without his friend.
As of May 2002, the number of Coppola-family members appearing in or contributing to filmmaking stands at thirteen, spread over three generations.
Francis Ford Coppola has been in competition with Bob Fosse on several occasions. In 1972, Coppola was nominated for the Best Director Oscar (The Godfather (1972)), but lost to Fosse (Cabaret (1972)). In 1974, Fosse was nominated for Best Director (Lenny (1974)) but lost to Coppola (The Godfather: Part II (1974)). In 1979, both were nominated as directors (Apocalypse Now (1979) and All That Jazz (1979)), but both lost. When Fosse won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (Coppola won the previous year), he tied with Akira Kurosawa, whose movie was produced by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola.
Grandfather of Gia Coppola. Great-uncle of Weston Cage.
Has released his own line of specialty foods.
As a child, his bedroom was covered with pictures of his favourite film star, Jane Powell. When he discovered she'd married Geary Anthony Steffen, Jr., he tore them all down.
His wife arranged for him to meet Jane Powell as a 40th birthday present.
Out of all his peers who rose to fame and power in the 1970s "Golden Age" era, he is perhaps the only filmmaker still married to his first wife.
Made a commercial for Suntory whiskey with legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa in the 1970s, an event which later influenced a salient plot point in his daughter Sofia's movie, Lost in Translation (2003).
Was voted the 21st Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945- 1985". Pages 227-234. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
George Lucas said that he based the "Han Solo" character from the Star Wars trilogy on Coppola.
Serves as the Honorary Ambassador of the Central American nation of Belize in San Francisco, California, USA. On their official roster of worldwide honorary consulates found on their official website, he is referred to as "His Excellency Ambassador Francis Ford Coppola," although he is not a Belizean citizen.
In 1971 and 1973, George C. Scott and Marlon Brando refused their respective Best Actor awards for Patton (1970) and The Godfather (1972) - both written by Coppola.
Four of his relatives have been involved in the Star Wars films of his friend George Lucas. His brother-in-law, Bill Neil, worked at Industrial Light and Magic during the production of the original trilogy. His daughter, Sophia, and son, Roman, played a handmaiden and Naboo guard, respectively, in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). His nephew, Christopher Neil, who worked as a dialogue coach for both Francis (on Jack (1996) and The Rainmaker (1997) and Sophia (on The Virgin Suicides (1999)), did the same job on Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)--a job for which Coppola recommended him. In addition, his late older son was named Gian-Carlo. In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), there is a Naboo vehicle called the Gian Speeder.
Directed 12 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Geraldine Page, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strasberg, Talia Shire, Kathleen Turner, Andy Garcia and Martin Landau. Brando and De Niro won their Oscar for their performances as Vito Corleone.
In 1975, he accepted the Oscar for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" on behalf of Robert De Niro, who wasn't present at the awards ceremony. De Niro won for his performance in Coppola's The Godfather: Part II (1974).
The only person to direct a sibling in an Oscar-nominated performance (his sister Talia Shire was nominated as "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" for The Godfather: Part II (1974))
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 49th Cannes International Film Festival in 1996.
He is among an elite group of seven directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted) for the same film. In 1975 he won all three for The Godfather: Part II (1974). The others are Leo McCarey, Billy Wilder, James L. Brooks, Peter Jackson Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Co-owns the Rubicon restaurant in San Francisco with Robert De Niro and fellow Bay area resident Robin Williams.
Was involved in both movies that his father, Carmine Coppola, and his daughter, Sofia Coppola, won Oscars: he was the director of The Godfather: Part II (1974), which won his father an Oscar for "Best Music, Original Dramatic Score", and he was the executive producer of Lost in Translation (2003), which won his daughter the Oscar for "Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen".
There are three generations of Oscar winners in the Coppola family: Francis, his father Carmine Coppola, his nephew Nicolas Cage and his daughter Sofia Coppola. They are the second family to do so, the first family is the Hustons - Anjelica Huston, John Huston and Walter Huston.
Since the mid-90s (and possibly even earlier), he has been writing and re- writing an original screenplay entitled "Megalopolis". Described as "one man's quest to build utopia set in modern-day New York following a major disaster," the project has been delayed due to Coppola's constant tinkering with the script and the fact that the director is attempting to finance it himself. He admitted to taking on studio films such as Jack (1996) and The Rainmaker (1997) in order to make this happen. Several A-list actors have had their names attached to it and a great excess of second-unit footage (shot in 24p HD) has been captured by Coppola and the film's cinematographer, Ron Fricke of Baraka (1992) fame. However, the terrorist attacks on New York on September 11th 2001 made the movie's subject matter too sensitive, and the project was shelved indefinitely, although Coppola hasn't fully ruled it out.
Currently owns 2 resorts in Belize and 1 in Guatemala. They are the Blancaneaux Lodge in the Pine Ridge Region, Turtle Inn in Placencia and La Lancha near Tikal in Guatemala.
He, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg presented Martin Scorsese with his first ever Oscar for Best Director for The Departed (2006). All four directors were part of the "New Hollywood" movement in the 60s and 70s.
Was named after his grandfather Francesco Pennino.
Uncle of Nicolas Cage, Christopher Coppola, Marc Coppola, Robert Schwartzman, Jason Schwartzman, John Schwartzman, Matthew Shire and Stephanie Schwartzman.
Briefly attended the New York Military Academy where Troy Donahue was his classmate...until Coppola decided to drop out early on, so he called a taxi and left school. He and Donahue later worked together on The Godfather: Part II (1974).
His middle name was given to him to honor Henry Ford. Francis was born at the "Henry Ford" Hospital in Detroit; Francis's father participated in a music show that Henry Ford really liked and they, in fact, met. So the middle name Ford was to honor Henry Ford himself. (Source: Francis Ford Coppola, "Inside the Actor's Studio").
As a hold-over from his days directing theater when he was young, he always engages his cast in a lengthy rehearsal period before filming. Occasionally, he finds film actors that are not used to this will bristle against the process.
In 1986 his 22-year-old son, Gian-Carlo, died in a boating accident.
Favorite movies from his own personal filmography: The Rain People (1969), The Conversation (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979), Rumble Fish (1983) and Youth Without Youth (2007).
Is a big fan of actress Diane Lane and has cast her in no less than 4 films, The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983), The Cotton Club (1984) and Jack (1996).
Won five Oscars in four years - one in 1971 for Patton (1970), one in 1973 for The Godfather (1972), and three in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II (1974).
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 15th Marrakech International Film Festival in 2015.
His first two Oscar-winning screenplays were for Patton (1970) and The Godfather (1972), both movies also won for Best Actor. In both of these films, both leading actors - George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, respectively - turned down their awards (although it was the second Oscar which Brando won).
Is the only director to direct two actors in Oscar-winning performances in the same role: Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972), and Robert De Niro in The Godfather: Part II (1974). Since that time, only two other actors have been nominated for roles in which a previous actor already won an Oscar: José Ferrer and Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano de Bergerac, and John Wayne and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.
Three of the movies he co-wrote have a minor, but significant, character who acts arrogantly and tough towards those around him: General George S. Patton from Patton (1970) (portrayed by veteran actor, George C. Scott), Captain McCluskey from The Godfather (1972) (portrayed by veteran actor, Sterling Hayden) and Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore from Apocalypse Now (1979) (portrayed by veteran actor, Robert Duvall). Scott won the Oscar for his role and Duvall was nominated. Hayden received neither. Further, neither demise is shown of Patton or Kilgore, yet McCluskey's demise was shown.
Was plagued with demeaning nicknames in his childhood, such as "Ichabod" in military school, which was also one of 24 schools he attended before he entered college.
Says his greatest directorial influence is Elia Kazan.
One of nine directors to have won the Palme d'Or twice at the Cannes Film Festival, the others being Bille August, Alf Sjöberg, Emir Kusturica, Shôhei Imamura, Luc Dardenne & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Michael Haneke and Ken Loach.
He visited Buenos Aires, Argentina, making castings with Argentine actors and looking for locations for his film Tetro (2009). [June 2007]
He visited Buenos Aires, Argentina for 4 days. [July 2006]
In September 2005 he visited Istanbul for vacation. According to him, he got drunk one night and suddenly had the initial idea for Twixt (2011).
Coppola is the first major American film director to earn a master's degree in filmmaking from a major university (UCLA in 1968).
Director and screenwriter John Milius: "Francis is the best of us all. He has the most talent and the most daring. There are a lot of faults in Francis, but I think he's the leader".
Griffin O'Neal was found guilty of negligently operating a boat in relation to the death of Gian-Carlo Coppola, Coppola's 23-year-old son. Coppola died on the South River near Annapolis when a boat that O'Neal was operating went between two other boats and a tow line struck Coppola in the head throwing him to the deck and smashing his skull. O'Neal was cleared of manslaughter and also acquitted of two charges of recklessly operating a boat. [December 1986]
His ten favorite films are: Ashes and Diamonds (1958), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), I Vitelloni (1953), The Bad Sleep Well (1960), Yojimbo (1961), Singin' in the Rain (1952), The King of Comedy (1982), Raging Bull (1980), The Apartment (1960) and Sunrise (1927).
Coppola's legal drama The Rainmaker (1997) is widely regarded by film critics as the best of the many John Grisham adaptations. Grisham himself said of the film, "To me it's the best adaptation of any of [my books]. ... I love the movie. It's so well done." [Entertainment Weekly 2004].
Francis Ford Coppola's hands and feet were pressed into the cement outside the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on April 29th, 2016.
Along with Ernst Lubitsch, Jack Conway, Michael Curtiz, Victor Fleming, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Sam Wood, Herbert Ross and Steven Soderbergh, he is one of ten directors to have more than one film nominated for Best Picture in the same year. The Godfather: Part II (1974) and The Conversation (1974) were both so nominated at the 47th Academy Awards in 1975 while the former won the award.
He has directed Glenn Withrow in four films: The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983), The Cotton Club (1984) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).
He has directed James Caan in four films: The Rain People (1969), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Gardens of Stone (1987).
He has directed his daughter Sofia Coppola in eight films: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983), The Cotton Club (1984), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) and The Godfather: Part III (1990).
He has directed Diane Lane in four films: The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983), The Cotton Club (1984) and Jack (1996).
He has directed his younger sister Talia Shire in four films: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), New York Stories (1989) and The Godfather: Part III (1990).