LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis, who died at his home in Beverly Hills last week, was memorialized in a service on Monday where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and director David Lynch spoke fondly of the Hollywood legend.
De Laurentiis, who was born in Italy but lived in California, won an Oscar for Federico Fellini’s “La Strada” and was responsible for classic American movies such as “Serpico,” “Barbarella” and the 1976 big-budget remake of “King Kong.”
Schwarzenegger credited De Laurentiis, who died at age 91, with giving the actor-turned-politician his first big break in “Conan the Barbarian.”
“I have unbelievable memories of the man,” Schwarzenegger said. “How he inspired me, how he taught me about being courageous, to be smart and to have a big heart and to be giving.”
Lynch, who directed “Blue Velvet” and “Dune” with De Laurentiis producing, noted his friend’s energy and sense of humor and remembered him as a “great practical joker.”
People attending the service at the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, were asked by his family to wear De Laurentiis’ favorite color, red. Amid some of the somber apparel were splashes of rouge in dresses, gentlemen’s ties, ladies’ scarves and other clothing.
Among the attendees was Australian director Baz Luhrmann, as well as Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, and De Laurentiis’ family including his granddaughter Giada, a chef who hosts a show on the U.S. Food Network TV channel.
De Laurentiis was born in Torre Annunziata, near Naples, and following World War Two, he became a leading producer in the Italian movie industry. He later moved to Los Angeles.
Among the some 500 films that bear his imprint are “Death Wish,” “Three Days of the Condor” and most recently “Hannibal,” the 2001 sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs.”
In 2000, Oscar organizers gave De Laurentiis their Irving G. Thalberg Award honoring producers. In 2003, the Venice film festival gave him with their lifetime achievement award.
Reporting by John Russell for Reuters TV, writing by Bob Tourtellotte; editing by Chris Wilson