One of the most acclaimed directors of the 1970s, Francis Ford Coppola spearheaded a renaissance in American filmmaking, heralding a golden age which he defined through masterpieces ranging from The Conversation to Apocalypse Now to his crowning achievement, The Godfather. One of his era's most impassioned talents, Coppola was also one of its most erratic; in both his career and his personal life, he experienced euphoric triumph and shattering tragedy, pushing the limits of the cinematic form with a daring and fervor which became the hallmarks of not only his greatest successes but also his most notorious failures.
The son of composer Carmine Coppola, he was born April 7, 1939, in Detroit, MI. Raised in New York, he began making amateur films while still a child and later enrolled in the famed U.C.L.A. Film School in 1960. Upon entering the film industry by helming a number of softcore porn flicks, Coppola was approached by B-movie mogul Roger Corman to direct his first feature, Dementia 13, in 1963. While his Samuel Goldwyn Award-winning student screenplay Pilma, Pilma went unproduced, Coppola's 1966 U.C.L.A. thesis project, a freewheeling comedy titled You're a Big Boy Now, was distributed theatrically by Warner Bros., and that same year he collaborated on the screenplays of the features Is Paris Burning? and This Property Is Condemned. In 1968 he completed his first studio film, the box-office bomb Finian's Rainbow, followed the next year by The Rain People.