Famed Producer Dino De Laurentiis Dies at 91

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De Laurentiis produced more than 500 films in his 70-year career, and was nominated for more than 35 Oscars, winning his first in 1956 for Federico Fellini's "La Strada."

Famed film producer Dino De Laurentiis, who was behind Serpico, War and Peace and Dune, has died. He was 91.

De Laurentiis, who has been making movies for nearly 70 years, passed away inside his Beverly Hills home, where lived with his third wife, Martha. He has six daughters; his only son, Federico, died in a 1981 plane crash. His granddaughter, Giada, is a chef on the Food Network.

“Cinema has lost one of its greats," Rome Film Festival founder Walter Veltroni told the AFP. "The name of Dino De Laurentiis is tied to the history of cinema."

De Laurentiis was born to pasta-maker parents on Aug. 8, 1919 in Torre Annunziata, which is near Naples, but moved to the U.S. in the 1960s.

De Laurentiis entered the film industry at age 20, and went on to produce more than 500 movies, including those by Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini.

He won his first Oscar in 1956 for Fellini's La Strada, and another in 1957 for Nights of Cabiria. He was nominated at least 30 more times, and received the Irving G.Thalberg Memorial Award in 2001 at the Oscars for demonstrating a "consistently high quality of motion picture production," according to Bloomberg.

“I’ve been very lucky in my long life,” De Laurentiis said afterward. “On three continents, in diverse cultures, through happy moments, not-so-happy moments, and moments as marvelous as this one, I’ve had the privilege of working with the cinema’s greatest masters.”

The Venice Film Festival honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2003.

Nephew Aurelio De Laurentiis, a film producer as well, and the chairman and a leading shareholder of the SSC Napoli soccer club, said: “Uncle Dino was a witness to the rebirth of Italy after the second world war and he told that’s story through film, making him of the architects of the Golden era of Italian film.” He lived in the U.S. so long, Aurelio said, that he was not completely Italian, but neither was he American. “He lived in his own way, someone who brought Italian style to the world capital of film.”
Fellow director and Turin Film festival artistic director Gianni Amelio said: “Dino De Laurentiis was probably the most important film producer Italy ever had, and he left his mark on two great nations, in Italy and the United States.”

- Eric J. Lyman contributed to this report.