Federico Fellini was born in Rimini on 20 January 1920, son of Ida Barbiani, of Roman origin, and Urbano, a traveling salesman, originally of Gambettola. While still in high school, the future director started making a name for himself as a caricaturist: to promote films.
In January 1939 he moved to Rome with the excuse of studying law and joined the editorial staff of “Marc’Aurelio,” a widely-read satirical magazine, where he became popular through hundreds of pieces signed as Federico. He moved in variety circles, writing monologues for the comedian Aldo Fabrizi and collaborated with variety programs on the radio where he met a young actress, Giulietta Masina (1921-1994), whom he married in 1943. They had just one son, who died one month after he was born.
He soon made a name for himself as a scriptwriter by contributing to the scripts of Fabrizi’s films. Fellini’s solo directorial debut, Lo sceicco bianco (1952), was also a failure, but success finally arrived with I vitelloni (1953), which won the Silver Lion in Venice and which also launched Alberto Sordi’s career. This was followed by La strada (1954), with Giulietta which won an Oscar, the first of a series of films that assured Fellini’s place amongst the great filmmakers.
Some of the most famous films are Le notti di Cabiria (1957, another Oscar), La dolce vita (1960, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival), 8½ (1963, Oscar), Fellini Satyricon (’69), Fellini Roma (1972), Amarcord (1973, Oscar), Il Casanova (1976), Prova d’orchestra (1979), Ginger e Fred (1985), Intervista (1987, 40th Anniversary Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Grand Prize at the Moscow Film Festival), La voce della luna (1990). Fellini’s career was peppered with homages and awards, including the Legion of Honour (1984) and the Praemium Imperiale awarded by the imperial family of Japan (1990). Fellini is one of the directors that has won the most Oscars, five, the last of which a lifetime achievement award, in 1993, a few months before his death on October 31, in Rome, which causes immense mourning across the globe.