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Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford CoppolaBorn: 7-Apr-1939
Birthplace: Detroit, MI

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Film Director
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola had polio as a boy, leaving him bedridden for large periods of his childhood, and allowing him to indulge his imagination with homemade puppet theater productions. Using his father's 8mm movie camera, he began making movies when he was 10.

While attending college, Coppola was hired by low-budget movie maestro Roger Corman, and his first assignment was to re-script, dub, and re-edit a Russian science fiction film Corman had purchased, to make it appropriate for drive-in audiences. The film, originally titled Nebo zovyot in Russian, was retitled Battle Beyond the Sun, and it was awful, but Coppola was delighted to be working in the movie business.

On his own, Coppola wrote and directed a few porn films -- very mild by today's standards -- while earning Corman's trust. Coppola was the nominal director of The Terror with Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson, though Corman took the on-screen credit. Coppola was first credited as director of Corman's Dementia 13 with Patrick Magee, made mere weeks after The Terror.

After that, Coppola was hired at Seven Arts, a much more 'major league' studio, where he worked mostly as a writer, adapting Tennessee Williams' This Property Is Condemned for Sydney Pollack and eventually writing and directing his coming-of-age comedy-drama You're a Big Boy Now. After leaving Seven Arts, he won his first Oscar as co-writer on Patton starring George C. Scott, then made his name with The Godfather with Marlon Brando, re-inventing the gangster genre with a story of thugs and killers as family.

Coppola suffered a nervous breakdown during the typhoon- and trauma-plagued shoot of his war epic Apocalypse Now with Martin Sheen, and over the subsequent decade he had limited success -- flops like One from the Heart and The Cotton Club, and films that were little noticed at the time but have subsequently grown in critical acclaim, The Outsiders with Matt Dillon, Rumble Fish with Dillon and Dennis Hopper, and the exuberant Tucker: The Man and His Dream with Jeff Bridges.

In 1992, Coppola made a huge hit of Dracula with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder, but after that the quality and box office success of his work diminished again, with the odd comedy Jack with Robin Williams and the adequate but unremarkable thriller The Rainmaker with Matt Damon. Coppola sued Warner Bros in 1998, claiming that the idea for Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio had been his, and he was awarded $20-million in damages.

Coppola has been unable to find financing for a science fiction film he yearns to make, Megalopolis, which he describes as "a little bit like an Ayn Rand novel." He also hopes to produce, but not direct, an adaptation of Jack Kerouac's landmark novel On the Road.

Though he has made his mark as a director, Coppola has also directed plays, owns a hotel in the south of Italy, co-owns the Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery, served on the board of directors at Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, founded his own long-running production company American Zoetrope, and published City Magazine in San Francisco and the literary magazine Zoetrope. He has also mentored young moviemakers including George Lucas and Peter Bogdanovich, and produced other moviemakers' films, including Carroll Ballard's The Black Stallion, Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi, and Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein.

Coppola's middle name honors the Ford Motor Company, which sponsored Ford Sunday Evening Hour, a 1930s radio program on CBS. While Francis was in his mother's womb, the radiocast eased the family's financial worries by hiring Coppola's father, composer Carmine Coppola, as music arranger. The elder Coppola later scored several of his son's films, including The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now.

Actors Nicolas Cage and Jason Schwartzman are Coppola's nephews.

Father: Carmine Coppola (composer, b. 11-Jun-1910, d. 26-Apr-1991)
Mother: Italia Pennino (b. 1912, d. 20-Jan-2004)
Sister: Talia Shire (actress, b. 1946)
Brother: August Floyd Coppola (writer, Dean at San Francisco State University)
Wife: Eleanor Jessie Neil (film director, b. 4-May-1936, m. 1963)
Mistress: Melissa Mathison (screenwriter, liaisons in late 1970s, later married to Harrison Ford)
Daughter: Mary Coppola
Daughter: Sofia Coppola (film director, b. 1971)
Son: Roman Coppola (film producer, b. 1965)
Son: Gian-Carlo Coppola (b. 17-Sep-1963, d. 26-May-1986 boating accident)

    University: BA Drama, Hofstra University (1960)
    University: MFA, University of California at Los Angeles (1967)

    Oscar for Best Screenplay 1971 for Patton (with Edmund H. North)
    Oscar for Best Screenplay (another medium) 1972 for The Godfather (with Mario Puzo)
    Oscar for Best Director 1975 for The Godfather Part II
    Oscar for Best Screenplay (another medium) 1975 for The Godfather Part II (with Mario Puzo)
    Oscar (honorary) 2010, Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
    Endorsement of IBM 1995
    Academy of Achievement (1994)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2010
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    Visited Disneyland Captain EO premiere (Sep-1986)
    Risk Factors: Bipolar Disorder, Obesity, Polio

    Twixt (11-Sep-2011)
    Tetro (14-May-2009)
    Youth Without Youth (20-Oct-2007)
    The Rainmaker (21-Nov-1997)
    Jack (9-Aug-1996)
    Bram Stoker's Dracula (13-Nov-1992)
    The Godfather: Part III (25-Dec-1990)
    New York Stories (1-Mar-1989)
    Tucker: The Man and His Dream (12-Aug-1988)
    Gardens of Stone (8-May-1987)
    Peggy Sue Got Married (10-Oct-1986)
    Captain Eo (12-Sep-1986)
    The Cotton Club (14-Dec-1984)
    Rumble Fish (21-Oct-1983)
    The Outsiders (25-Mar-1983)
    One From the Heart (11-Feb-1982)
    Apocalypse Now (15-Aug-1979)
    The Godfather: Part II (12-Dec-1974)
    The Conversation (7-Apr-1974)
    The Godfather (15-Mar-1972)
    The Rain People (27-Aug-1969)
    Finian's Rainbow (9-Oct-1968)
    You're a Big Boy Now (9-Dec-1966)
    Dementia 13 (25-Sep-1963)
    Tonight for Sure! (25-Oct-1962)
    Battle Beyond the Sun (12-Sep-1959)

    Milius (9-Mar-2013) · Himself
    I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale (16-Jan-2009) · Himself
    A Decade Under the Influence (19-Jan-2003) · Himself
    Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (18-Jan-2003) · Himself
    Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (May-1991) · Himself

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