#M(ichigan)M(ovie)H(istory) On this Date, April 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola was born

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Michigan has been home to some of the most notable directors in the world.  American film director, producer and screenwriter, Francis Ford Coppola is from Michigan.   Born on this date, April 7, 1939 Coppola was born in Detroit.

Coppola was named after Henry Ford,  not only because he was born at Henry Ford Hospital, but because his father was a flutist for The Ford Sunday Evening Hour, an hour-long concert music radio series sponsored by the Ford Motor Company,    When his father was named principle flutist for the NBC Symphony Orchestra the family moved to New York, settling in Woodside, Queens, where Coppola spent the remainder of his childhood; Coppola was two years old when the family moved.

In 1955, Coppola enrolled in Hofstra University with an emphasis on theatrical arts.  While at Hofstra Coppola founded the cinema workshop and contributed prolifically to the campus literary magazine.  He won three D. H. Lawrence Awards for theatrical production and direction and received a Beckerman Award for his outstanding contributions to the school’s theater arts division Upon graduation,  with a degree in drama from Hofstra University, Coppolla followed his brother’s lead moved to California when he did graduate work in filmmaking  at UCLA . He was training as assistant with filmmaker Roger Corman, working in such capacities as sound-man, dialogue director, associate producer and, eventually, director of Dementia 13 (1963), Coppola’s first feature film.

During the next four years, Coppola was involved in a variety of script collaborations, including writing an adaptation of “This Property is Condemned” by Tennessee Williams (with Fred Coe and Edith Sommer), and screenplays for Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Patton (1970), the film for which Coppola won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award.  In 1966, Coppola’s 2nd film brought him critical acclaim and a Master of Fine Arts degree.

In the 1970s,  Coppolla was part of the “New Hollywood”  wave of filmmaking, a movement which emerged in the early 1970s with ideas that challenged conventional film-making. The group included Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Terrence Malick, Robert Altman, Woody Allen, William Friedkin, Philip Kaufman and George Lucas.

While on the set of You’re a Big Boy Now,  Coppola was introduced to George Lucas.  In 1969, Coppola and George Lucas established American Zoetrope, a name Coppola chose after receiving a gift of zoetropes from Mogens Scot-Hansen, founder of a studio called Lanterna Film  Zoetrope  Studio went on to become an early adopter of digital filmmaking, including some of the earliest uses of HDTV  The company’s first project was THX 1138 (1971), produced by Coppola and directed by Lucas.   Coppola also produced the second film that Lucas directed, American Graffiti (1973), in 1973. This movie got five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture.

In 1971, Coppola’s film The Godfather (1972) became one of the highest-grossing movies in history and brought him an Oscar for writing the screenplay with Mario Puzo The film was a Best Picture Academy Award-winner, and also brought Coppola a Best Director Oscar nomination.

Following his work on the screenplay for The Great Gatsby (1974), Coppola’s next film was The Conversation (1974), which was honored with the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and brought Coppola Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations. Also released that year, The Godfather: Part II (1974), rivaled the success of The Godfather (1972), and won six Academy Awards, bringing Coppola Oscars as a producer, director and writer.

Coppola began work on his most ambitious film, Apocalypse Now (1979), a Vietnam War epic that was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1993). Coppola met Jim Morrison while attending UCLA,   and would later used Morrison’s song “The End” in Apocalypse Now  Released in 1979, the acclaimed film won a Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and two Academy Awards. Also that year, Coppola executive produced the hit The Black Stallion (1979).

With George Lucas, Coppola executive produced Kagemusha (1980), directed by Akira Kurosawa, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), directed by Paul Schrader and based on the life and writings of Yukio Mishima. Coppola also executive produced such films as The Escape Artist (1982), Hammett (1982) The Black Stallion Returns (1983), Barfly (1987), Wind (1992), The Secret Garden (1993), etc.

In 1991, Coppola was honored with the Berlinale Camera at the Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1992, he was awarded a Golden Lion – Honorary Award at the Venice Film Festival.

In 1998, the Directors Guild of America honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was honored with a special 50th anniversary award for his impressive career at the 2002 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

The same year he received a gala tribute from Film Society of Lincoln Center..

In 2003, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Denver Film Festival.

He was given an honorary award at the 2007 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival.

In 2010, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to honor him with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 2nd Governor’s Awards in November,  The honor was bestowed on him on November 13, along with honorary Oscars to Jean-Luc Godard, Kevin Brownlow and Eli Wallach.

In 2013, he was awarded a Praemium Imperiale in the theatre/film category.

Coppola serves as the “Honorary Consul H. E. Francis Ford Coppola” in San Francisco for the Central American nation of Belize.

On October 1, 2014, Coppola was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr.

Coppola is among only six people in Academy Award history to receive Oscars as a Producer, Director and Screenwriter.

On May 6, 2015, he was awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts.

For Francis Ford Coppola’s complete Filmography



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