04-12-2024, 9:40 PM

A family of filmmakers' matriarch, Eleanor Coppola, dies at 87

Eleanor Coppola, the Emmy Award-winning documentarian and noted visual artist, who alongside her husband, the acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola, nurtured a family of filmmakers, passed away on Friday at her residence in Rutherford, California, at the age of 87.

Born in Los Angeles on May 4, 1936, Eleanor grew up in Orange County but later returned to Los Angeles to pursue her studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her career commenced as an assistant art director, and it was during this time that she crossed paths with her future husband, Francis Ford Coppola, while collaborating on his inaugural directorial project, the 1962 horror film Dementia 13. Their union lasted for 61 years, and together they raised three children, all of whom followed in the family tradition: actor and producer Gian-Carlo Coppola, who tragically passed away in a boating accident in 1986; filmmaker Roman Coppola (known for works such as CQ and A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III); and filmmaker Sofia Coppola (notable for directing The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation).

Eleanor Coppola, a filmmaker in her own right, gained recognition for her insightful behind-the-scenes documentaries, notably the Emmy-winning 1991 production Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, which delved into the making of her husband's seminal work, Apocalypse Now.

In addition to her filmmaking endeavors, Coppola authored two books, Notes on the Making of Apocalypse Now and Notes on a Life. Furthermore, her diverse artistic talents, including drawings, photographs, and conceptual art pieces, have been showcased in galleries and museums worldwide.

At the age of 87 she completed a third book, chronicling her recent life, and wrote in the manuscript, "I appreciate how my unexpected life has stretched and pulled me in so many extraordinary ways and taken me in a multitude of directions beyond my wildest imaginings."

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