Franco Zeffirelli, Italian film director, dies at 96

The Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli, one of the most versatile artists of his generation, has died aged 96 after a long illness. His son Luciano said his father had died at home, adding he “had suffered for a while, but he left in a peaceful way”.

In a career spanning more than 60 years, Zeffirelli directed films, theatre and opera. Many of his stage productions became successes on screen – he became famous for rethinking “old war horses” in new ways. He directed Judi Dench on stage in Romeo and Juliet in 1960, a production that led to an Oscar-winning film adaptation in 1968.

He also directed stars including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1967 film Taming of the Shrew and, later, Mel Gibson in 1990’s Hamlet, with Glenn Close and Helena Bonham Carter among the supporting cast. He was also known for the lavish TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth.

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