Franco Zeffirelli

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Franco Zeffirelli, KBE (Hon),[1] (born 12 February 1923) is an Italian film director and producer of films and television and opera director and designer. He has also been a politician (The People of Freedom).

He is known for his film version of Romeo and Juliet (1968), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. His television mini-series Jesus of Nazareth (1977) also won acclaim and is still shown on Easter weekend in many countries. Zeffirelli has been a member of the Italian Senate since 1994, representing the Forza Italia party (which later became The People of Freedom).



Zeffirelli was born in Florence as Gianfranco Corsi, the illegitimate son of a mercer, Ottorino Corsi, and his mistress, Adelaide Garosi, who was a dressmaker. When he was six years old his mother died and he subsequently grew up under the auspices of the British expatriate community and was particularly involved with the so-called Scorpioni, who inspired his semi-autobiographical 1999 film Tea With Mussolini.

He graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze in 1941 and, following his father's advice, entered the University of Florence to study art and architecture.[2] After World War II broke out, he fought as a partisan, before he met up with the British soldiers of the 1st Scots Guards and became their interpreter. After the war, he re-entered the University of Florence to continue his studies, but when he saw Henry V in 1945, he directed his attention toward theatre instead.

While working for a scenic painter in Florence, he was introduced to and hired by Luchino Visconti, who made him the assistant director for the film La Terra trema, which was released in 1948. Zeffirelli's later work was deeply impacted by Visconti's methods.[3] He also worked with directors such as Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini. In the 1960s he made his name designing and directing his own plays in London and New York, and soon transferred his ideas to cinema.

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