Film Director Franco Zeffirelli Dies at 96

By Creative Media Times

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who famously directed the film version of “Romeo and Juliet” as well as some of world’s greatest opera singers, has died. He was 96.

Zeffirelli directed more than two dozen films, including “The Taming of the Shrew” with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and the religious miniseries with an all-star ensemble “Jesus of Nazareth.”

His work on “Romeo and Juliet” remains one of the most successful big screen adaptations of Shakespeare. The film’s popularity has been credited for helped bring Shakespeare to young film goers around the world. It also earned Zeffirelli an Oscar nomination for best director.

In 1990, Zeffirelli once again revisited Shakespeare by casting Mel Gibson in the lead role for “Hamlet”, with Glenn Close as Queen Gertrude.

His lavish work on theater and opera is equally esteemed, having directed La bohème (1982), Tosca (1985), Turandot and Don Giovanni at the New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and Don Carlo with Luciano Pavarotti and Daniela Dessi at Italy’s famed La Scala.

Born in Florence, Tuscany, Italy in 1923, Zeffirelli was the son of a wool and silk dealer and a fashion designer.