Hollywood Movies

Eleanor Coppola, Matriarch of Filmmaking Family, Dead at 87

April 13, 20242 Mins Read

Photo: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Eleanor Coppola, the documentarian, writer, and matriarch who won an Emmy for the making-of doc Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, has died while surrounded by family at home in Rutherford, California. She was 87. Coppola’s family confirmed the news to the Associated Press. No cause of death was provided. According to her family, she had recently completed her third memoir. In the manuscript, she reflected, “I appreciate how my unexpected life has stretched and pulled me in so many extraordinary ways and taken me in a multitude of directions beyond my wildest imaginings.”

Born Eleanor Jessie Neil, she met Francis Ford Coppola while working as an assistant art director on his directorial debut, the horror film Dementia 13. She got pregnant within a few months of dating, and the pair were married in Las Vegas in 1963. Together, the Coppolas raised one of the most well-known filmmaking families in Hollywood. Their three children — the late producer and actor Gian-Carlo Coppola, Oscar-nominated writer and director Roman Coppola, and Oscar-winning writer and director Sofia Coppola — grew up on the sets of their father’s films and eventually joined the movie industry. (Sofia Coppola dedicated her recent Priscilla Presley biopic, Priscilla, to her mother.)

Throughout her decades-long career, Eleanor documented the production of multiple of her husband and children’s projects, including the trials of Apocalypse Now in Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. At age 80, she directed her first narrative feature, the 2016 Diane Lane rom-com Paris Can Wait. She later followed that up with 2020’s Love Is Love Is Love.

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