Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Franco Zeffirelli

Born and raised in Florence, Italy, Franco Zeffirelli was first an actor and set designer before he transitioned to directing, his lasting legacy. Mentored by the renowned director, Luchino Visconti, Zeffirelli directed almost two dozen films and many productions of classic operas, including at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. He is best known for his screen adaptations of Shakespearean plays, especially The Taming of the Shrew (1967) starring Elizabeth Taylor; the perennial high school favorite, Romeo and Juliet (1968); and a Hamlet (1990) with Mel Gibson. Zeffirelli has been nominated for two Academy Awards. Active in politics and a vocal supporter of the Roman Catholic Church, he was appointed as a senator in 1994 by then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a post he held until 2001. Openly identifying as “homosexual” rather than gay, Zeffirelli has resided for many years in a private villa in Rome and continues to direct for the stage.