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“The Godfather.” “The Conversation.” “Apocalypse Now.” “Peggy Sue Got Married.” “The Outsiders.” These are just a few of the titles writer and director Francis Ford Coppola has to his credit. Winner of five Academy Awards, Coppola was honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with a star on the Walk of Fame Monday, March 21 in an event that also helped mark the 50th anniversary of “The Godfather.”
Ben Mankiewicz, host of Turner Classic Movies, said that he believed the recognition was long overdue.
“I feel like this sort of sets it right. If you’re going to pick only ‘14 people’ to have stars on the Walk of the Fame, and that’s it, you can only have those ‘14 people,’ Francis Ford Coppola should have one. So, it feels like a little justice is done,” Mankiewicz said.
“There was cinema before Francis Ford Coppola, and cinema after,” Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, said. “He changed it.”
Coppola’s younger sister, actress Talia Shire, quipped that she met Coppola when she was born. Shire was directed by her brother in the trilogy of “Godfather” films.
“We were a family of five,” Shire said. “We had a musician father, a mother who was an old-time beauty with great comedic timing [and] our older brother August who was a great, dreaming philosopher.”
She went on to explain that Coppola experimented with storytelling from a young age, first working with puppetry.
“He was also a ventriloquist. One of the reasons I don’t sit on his lap is because I don’t want to be the dummy,” she added with a laugh.
Shire went on to discuss Coppola’s experiences as a theater arts student, including acting in plays like “As You Like It” while at Hofstra College and writing a musical based on H.G. Wells. Coppola attended graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was instructed by pioneering female director Dorothy Arzner. Coppola worked with legendary producer Roger Corman early in his career and quickly moved into writing and directing A-list features, such as “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Patton.”
Following the blockbuster success of “The Godfather,” Coppola was cemented as one of the auteurs of Hollywood’s new wave. Alongside such visionaries as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, Coppola represented the youthful, more realistic take on film that came into vogue during the Vietnam era, a period when censorship no longer dictated what could and could not be shown on screen.
Actress Elle Fanning, who worked with Coppola in the 2011 horror film “Twixt,” praised the director.
“I’m so happy to be here to celebrate you … the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, who is undoubtedly the greatest and the most influential of all time,” Fanning said.
Fanning went on to describe the director’s resourcefulness, saying that he could “make the fork on the dinner table a heroine in his story if he needed to.
“Francis told me never to lose my youthful spark, to never compromise and always strive for creative freedom,” Fanning added.
The star is located in front of the entrance to the historic Musso and Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. Coppola is a long-time patron of the establishment.
“For generations, the Coppola Family has been a part of the Musso and Frank family,” Mark Echeverria, CFO/COO of Musso and Frank Grill, said. “We are honored and excited that Francis Ford Coppola’s star will forever be in front of Musso’s so generations of Hollywood visitors can come enjoy.”
During his brief remarks at the ceremony, Coppola credited his wife, filmmaker Eleanor Coppola, as well as his family for his success through their support during his career. He also evoked his association with one particular studio.
“I have to thank Paramount Studios, because without them there would be no star on this street,” Coppola. “They are why I have this star.
“I think in my position it best that your comments be brief and sincere, and certainly who would not be pleased to have their name amid these wonderful people,” he added.
In discussing her brother’s legacy, Shire cited a famous Isaac Newton quote.
“If I see further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” Shire said. “Francis is a giant, and he sees what is ahead. He’s a visionary, and he has the courage to take what he sees ahead and turn it into a movie. Now, I don’t want to embarrass Francis and try to stand on [his] shoulders… so I will from time to time, as I know many thousands will … stand on your star.”
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