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Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola, Francis Ford (1939- ), American film producer, director, and writer, born in Detroit, Michigan. Coppola was educated at Hofstra University, where he received a degree in theatre in 1960, and at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) film school. While a student at UCLA he began working for Roger Corman, a noted producer of B-movies; he also directed his first feature film, Dementia 13, in Ireland in 1963 and began writing screenplays for Seven Arts Productions. Coppola won widespread recognition for his screenplays and direction of You're a Big Boy Now (1967) and The Rain People (1969). He won an Academy Award (Oscar) for his screenplay of Patton (1970).

From that time, usually working through his own production centre-Zoetrope Studios, which has since filed for bankruptcy-and In collaboration with major studios such as Universal and Paramount, Coppola became known as one of the most controversial American film-makers of his day. The Godfather (1972) became one of the most acclaimed films in American film history. Despite occasional critical or commercial failures, he won Academy Awards and international accolades for many of his films, including The Conversation (1974), The Godfather, Part II (1974), the Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now (1979), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), The Godfather, Part III (1990), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), and Jack (1996).

In 1997 he directed one of his most well-received films for many years, the legal thriller The Rainmaker, based on the novel by John Grisham and starring Matt Damon and Danny DeVito. Notable films which, while not directed by Coppola, were produced by either him or his production facility included American Graffiti (1973), the childhood classic The Black Stallion (1979), Hammett (1982), The Secret Garden (1992), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), and Don Juan de Marco (1995). Hearts of Darkness: A Film-maker's Apocalypse, a documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, was directed by his wife, Eleanor Coppola, along with George Hickenlooper and Fox Bahr, and released in 1991. Coppola's nephew, Nicolas Cage, is a successful actor.