Francis Ford Coppola (1939- ) American motion-picture producer, director, and writer, born in Detroit, Michigan. Coppola was educated at Hofstra University, where he received a degree in theater in 1960, and at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) film school. While a student at UCLA he began working with Roger Corman, a noted producer of B movies; directed his first feature film, Dementia 13, in 1963; and began writing screenplays for Seven Arts Productions. Coppola won widespread recognition for his screenplays and direction of You're a Big Boy Now (1966) and The Rain People (1969). He won an Academy Award for his screenplay of Patton.

From that time, usually working through his own production center Zoetrope Studios and in collaboration with major studios such as Universal and Paramount Pictures, Coppola became known as one of the most powerful American filmmakers of his day. At the time of its release, his brilliant and audacious portrait of an American Mafia family, The Godfather (1972), was the biggest box-office success in movie history, and it was soon acclaimed as a film masterpiece. Despite occasional critical or commercial failures, Coppola went on to win Academy Awards and international accolades for many of his motion pictures. His acclaimed films include The Conversation (1974), The Godfather, Part II (1974), the Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now (1979), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), The Godfather, Part III (1990), and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). Notable films that, while not directed by Coppola, were produced by either him or his production facility include American Graffiti (1973), the childhood classic The Black Stallion (1979), Hammett (1983), Mishima (1985), Wind (1992), The Secret Garden (1993), and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994). Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, a documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, was filmed by Coppola's wife, Eleanor Coppola, and was released in 1991.

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