Dino De Laurentiis, a rare fixture in Hollywood, who had an eye for the bottom line as well as cutting edge movies such as “Serpico” and “Three Days of the Condor,” has died. He was 91.
The death of the Italian film maker marks one more passing from an era that saw some of the most memorable movies on the big screen made by men with vision, daring and a flare for the avant garde.
“My grandfather was a true inspiration. He was my biggest champion in life and a constant source for wisdom and advice. I will miss him dearly,” said granddaughter Giada De Laurentiis, a well-known fixture on television and a star chef and host on The Food Network.
De Laurentiiss died Wednesday night at his home in Beverly Hills. Daughter Raffaella De Laurentiis did not give a cause of death, but said he was surrounded by friends and family.
The “little lion” as his second wife, Martha De Laurentiis, once described him, was a student of the Italian film school that came of age in the 1930s and 1940s, and made their mark internationally after World War II.
He had a hand in more than 500 films, including such contemporary classics as “Barbarella,” with Jane Fonda, “U-571,” “War and Peace,” “Ragtime,” “Three Days of the Condor,” with Robert Redford and “Blue Velvet,” with Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini, who broke through in the film.
De Luarentiis took Hollywood by storm in 1973 when his debut film “Serpico,” with Al Pacino won an Academy Award.
But he was no stranger to Oscar. Two of his Italian films, Federico Fellini’s “La Strada” and “Nights of Cabiria” also won Oscars for best foreign films.
As his fame and movie budgets grew, and productions became more lavish, he never turned his back on independent cinema and fostered the careers of directors such as Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch.
On the business side, he was a pioneer in modern marketing. By virtue of his background understood the potential of overseas markets. His successes were all the more monumental when measured against his monumental flops. And there were more than a few.
At 70, he was forced to start almost from scratch after being forced to declare bankruptcy after bankrolling a King Kong sequel the fell flat on its face. And he went on to build a successful career again.
“My philosophy is very simple,” De Laurentiis said at the time. “To feel young, you must work as long as you can.”