The film world was met with tragic news this week, as it has been reported that Italian director Franco Zeffirelli recently died at the age of 96. According to CNN, Zeffirelli died from pnuemonia, which he contracted around two weeks ago. Zeffirelli is survived by his two adopted sons.
The loss of Zeffirelli is a heavy blow to Italian filmmakers and moviegoers, as he was one of the country’s most beloved creators during the 20th century. Zeffirelli is best known for directing several Shakespeare adaptations including 1967’s The Taming of the Shrew, which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and 1968’s Romeo and Juliet, which earned him an Oscar. The Romeo and Juliet film, which starred Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, remains his most famous work due the age-accurate casting of Shakespeare’s titular leads and is considered one of the writer’s best adaptations. Zeffirelli was also a prolific theater, opera, and television director, with the Metropolitan Opera tweeting a heartfelt condolence in light of his passing.
Unfortunately it seems that Zeffirelli is not a perfect figure. The director has been accused of sexual harassment by at least two men including an actor who was in the film Sparrow, and by Bruce Robinson who played Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet.