Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli has died aged 96, his son confirmed.
The film legend, who directed the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s The Taming of the Shrew, had a career spanning six decades.
Zeffirelli’s son Luciano said his father had died at home, adding he “had suffered for a while, but he left in a peaceful way”.
The director delighted audiences around the world with his romantic vision and often extravagant productions, most famously captured in his cinematic rendering of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet – a hit with critics as well as at the box office – and the lavish TV miniseries Jesus Of Nazareth.
Showing great flexibility, he produced classics for the world’s most famous opera houses, from Milan’s venerable La Scala to the Metropolitan in New York, as well as plays for London and Italian stages.
Often appreciated more by the public than critics, Zeffirelli was the last of a generation of Italian film giants who came of age after World War Two and included Federico
Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica.
He directed more than two dozen films, working with stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier,
Alec Guinness, Faye Dunaway, and Jon Voight.
“Franco Zeffirelli, one of the world’s greatest men of culture, passed away this morning,” Dario Nardella, the mayor of
Zeffirelli’s home city of Florence, announced on Twitter : “Goodbye dear Maestro, Florence will never forget you.”
In 1994 Zeffirelli became a member of the Italian senate, representing Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
He was made a Knight of the British Empire in 2004.