Italian costume and production designer Danilo Donati, who was in the midst of production on Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio, died Saturday, December 1, at his home in Rome. Cause of death for the designer, who was 75, wasn't yet known.
Donati began his costume design career in theatre in the 1950s, working with directors like Luchino Visconti. His first feature film credit was on Mario Monicelli's 1959 comedy The Great War, but Donati attracted international attention with Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1964 The Gospel According to St. Matthew, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. He received a second nomination for Alberto Lattuada's La Mandragola and a third for Franco Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. He finally won the Oscar for Zeffirelli's 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, which was a worldwide box-office smash, and closed out the decade with work on Federico Fellini's Satyricon.
A scene from Romeo and Juliet, with Oscar-winning costumes by Donati
In the 1970s, Donati designed costumes for a series of scandalous Pasolini projects such as The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, Arabian Nights, and Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom, and took his name off the even more notorious Tinto Brass epic Caligula. He also received production design credit for the first time, on Fellini's Roma, and continued to create both sets and costumes for the director's subsequent Amarcord and Casanova. The latter film won Donati a second Oscar for Best Costume Design, in 1977.
Donati was known for spanning the ancient world through the Renaissance and beyond with panache, and with the 1980 Flash Gordon, he added art deco-inflected comic-strip style to his list of specialties. Most recently, he designed sets and costumes for Benigni's hugely successful Life Is Beautiful.