Federico Fellini was born in Rimini, a resort city on the Adriatic
in 1920, to a strongly Catholic family. Fellini was fascinated at an early
age by the circuses and vaudeville performers that his town attracted.
Fellini, while educated in Catholic schools, soon became critical of
the Church, but maintained a strong spiritual connection. His first exposure
to the working world found him in such diverse positions as a crime reporter,
a caricature artist, and a gag writer for actor Aldo Fabrizi. Fabrizi's
thesbian world opened up new possibilities for Fellini's own self-expression.
In 1943, Fellini met and married actress Giulietta Masina, who would
later appear in several of his films. Fellini called Masina the greatest
influence on his work.
A chance encounter with Roberto Rossellini jump-started Fellini's career
as a visionary director and screen writer. Fellini drew on his childhood
experiences and his prolific imagination to create some of the most
memorable films of all time.
Fellini's screenwriting and directing career spanned several decades
and he continued to pursue other projects in semi-retirement. At the Academy
Awards ceremony in March of 1993, Fellini received a special Oscar for
lifetime achievement in filmmaking, which he dedicated to Masina in his
acceptance speech. In August of that year, Fellini suffered a stroke, and
went into a coma following a heart attack in October. After his death at
age 73 on October 31st—one day after he and Masina (who was to die of cancer
less than five months later) observed their 50th wedding anniversary—tens
of thousands of people packed the narrow streets of Fellini's hometown
of Rimini, applauding as the director's casket was carried from the main
piazza to the cinema where Fellini had watched his first films as a child
(and which he featured in Amacord). It was a fitting tribute to
one of the cinema's greatest artists, who had become a national treasure
for Italy and a respected master the world over.