Dino De Laurentiis, one of the last of the cigar-chomping movie moguls, died Thursday in Los Angeles, his daughter Raffaella De Laurentiis has confirmed. He was 91.
Colorful, bold and tough, De Laurentiis produced some 500 movies that spanned the works of Italian masters Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini to, starting in the 1960s, Hollywood's Serpico, Three Days of the Condor, Death Wish, Blue Velvet and the much-maligned, but still entertaining, 1976 remake of King Kong.
"My grandfather was a true inspiration. He was my biggest champion in life and a constant source for wisdom and advice. I will miss him dearly," Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis, 40, told the Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
In 1983, Dino, still active in the movie business, launched a food enterprise that bore the family name.
A diminutive giant – he stood 5'4" – De Laurentiis was born Aug. 8, 1919, in a town outside of Naples.
"When I leave Italy [for America] it is from zero, to start a new life," he told PEOPLE in 1976, apologizing that he was still "allergic" to English. "Everybody there, they want me to come right back with no money. Now, I'm no star like [Robert] Redford, who has to be recognized when he walks down the street. But I spend $6 million for properties alone in the last year, and I have only one boss: the audience."
Besides Giada, he is survived by his second wife, producer Martha Schumacher, and their two daughters, as well as the four children he had with his first wife, the Italian film actress Silvana Mangano, who died in 1989.