Born in Florence on February 12, 1923, Franco Zeffirelli
began his career as an actor, appearing in several of Luchino Visconti
's stage plays. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was Visconti's assistant on such films as La Terra Trema, Bellissima and Senso. In 1945, he began a successful career as a costume designer for operas and stage plays. Since the early 1950s he has directed numerous operas and plays in London, Milan, New York and other cities and has gained a reputation for the opulence of his productions, many of which he still designs.
Zeffirelli made his debut as a film director in the late 1960s with the highly publicized (and handsomely mounted) production of The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The following year he made his best-known and best-loved film, Romeo and Juliet, which earned him an Oscar̉ nomination as Best Director and a niche in film history for being the first director to cast two real teenagers to play Shakespeare's young lovers. His subsequent films have included Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the all-star 1977 TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth, The Champ, starring Jon Voight, film versions of the operas La Traviata and Otello, the 1988 musical biopic Young Toscanini, a critically-acclaimed adaptation of Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close, The Sparrow and the 1996 filmed adaptation of Jane Eyre.
Zeffirelli remains active in the opera world, staging productions in Europe and the U.S.
Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.
Franco Zeffirelli Facts
|Jesus of Nazareth|
|Romeo and Juliet|
|Tea With Mussolini|
|The Taming of the Shrew|
|Romeo & Juliet|