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This Day in the Arts: February 12


The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put in place in Washington, DC.


Italian filmmaker, opera director, and producer Franco Zeffirelli was born in Florence on February 12, 1923. Zeffirelli's early years were not easy. His parents were both married to other people, and he lost his mother to illness when he was only six years old.

Prior to his film career, Zeffirelli attended the University of Florence and fought in World War II. Later in life, he became an honorary knight and a member of the Italian Senate.

But, Zeffirelli is best known for turning the works of William Shakespeare into blockbuster films. The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton gave the director his first hit. His exuberant adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. And, his 1990 version of Hamlet with Mel Gibson and Glenn Close grossed more than $20 million at the box office.

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