Oscar-winning producer Dino De Laurentiis, who guided a number of classic films and a few expensive follies to the silver screen, died in Beverly Hills Wednesday. He was 91.
Born in 1919 in the province of Naples, De Laurentiis broke into the movie business as a production supervisor on L’ultimo Combattimento ( The Last Fight). In 1946, he started the Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica, a production company that produced several monumental Itallian neorealist classics, most notably Federico Fellini’s La Strada (which won the 1956 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) and Nights of Cabiria. In the 1960s, De Laurentiis branched out, producing the gonzo comic book adaptations Barbarella and Danger Diabolik.
De Laurentiis set up the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group in the United States in the 1970s, and became known for a string of commercially successful films, including Serpico, Death Wish, a remake of King Kong, Flash Gordon, and Conan the Barbarian (which provided a big break for Arnold Schwarzenegger). He also became known for several expensive flops, including the disaster movie Hurricane and the sci-fi picture Dune — a David Lynch debacle that nonetheless paved the way for their next collaboration, Blue Velvet. He remained sporadically active in recent years, producing several installments of the Hannibal Lecter series, including Hannibal and Red Dragon.
De Laurentiis is survived by his second wife, fellow producer Martha Schumacher, and six children, including producer daughter Raffaella.
For more, check out the LA Times‘ obituary of De Laurentiis here.