Francis Ford Coppola, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time was born 80 years ago today. His bout with polio as a youngster in Queens spurred Francis to develop his imagination and produce puppet theater plays. Though also gifted in engineering and music, he chose drama and film majors in college and soon won 6 Academy Awards, for The Godfather (Best Picture and Screenplay), for The Godfather Part II (Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay), and for his screenplay on the film Patton.

Coppola just announced this month that he will begin production on his epic magnum opus, Megalopolis, this year. LEARN more about the new sci-fi film below (and WATCH him tell the amazing story about Marlon Brando…

“I plan this year to begin my longstanding ambition to make a major work utilizing all I have learned during my long career, beginning at age 16 doing theater, and that will be an epic on a grand scale, which I’ve titled Megalopolis,” Coppola told Deadline this week.

“It is unusual; it will be a production on a grand scale with a large cast. It makes use of all of my years of trying films in different styles and types culminating in what I think is my own voice and aspiration. It is not within the mainstream of what is produced now, but I am intending and wishing and in fact encouraged, to begin production this year.”

Coppola wrote Megalopolis in the early ‘80s and later shot some second unit footage for the film before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 halted the project because the script contained scenes that would be disturbing in the aftermath. The story is about a remarkable architect who wants to redesign New York City into a modern utopia (but has to fight against a nemesis, the city’s conservative mayor)—and Coppola has his eye on Jude Law, as well as many other big names to star in the expansive film.

2011 photo by, CC license

Since his last film in 2011 (Twixt), Coppola has been busy as the owner of multiple resorts, cafes, a literary magazine, a line of pasta called Mammarella Foods, and three wineries, The Coppola Winery in Geyserville, California, a family destination containing a restaurant, swimming pools, and a museum of his movie memorabilia, including Vito Corleone’s desk. Most recently he put his family name on new organic strains of marijuana. (See the Books authored by Francis)

Coppola has the distinction of being one of only 8 filmmakers to have won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or twice—for The Conversation, which Coppola directed, produced, and wrote, and his next film, Apocalypse Now (1979), a vivid depiction of insanity in the Vietnam War. He was born in 1939.

More Good News on this Date in History:

  • Prohibition” against drinking beer was ended in the US, and the return of the malty beverage is celebrated on this day as, Brew Year’s Day (1933)
  • The World Health Organization was established by the United Nations and has gone on to rid the world of killer diseases like smallpox and, thanks to 150 offices in 194 Member States, 6 million fewer children died before their fifth birthday than in 1990 and polio is on the verge of eradication—with measles, malaria, and guinea worm eliminated from many countries (1948)
  • Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared a moratorium on the deployment of middle-range missiles in Europe (1985)
  • Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage (2009)

On this day in 2015, the jazz singer-songwriter Billie Holiday was born. Nicknamed “Lady Day,” Holiday’s vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.550px-Billie_Holiday_1947-William P. Gottlieb-pubdomain

In the late 1930s she recorded “Strange Fruit”, a song based on a poem about lynching. Her autobiography, “Lady Sings the Blues,” also the title of a 1956 LP, was later turned into a movie starring Diana Ross. She died at age 44. [Photo by William P. Gottlieb, 1947]

And, on this day in 1956, the first rock & roll show to be regularly scheduled, and nationally-broadcast, premiered on CBS Radio Network.Chuck_Berry_1957

Alan Freed’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Dance Party’ was hosted by the DJ who first promoted the new musical genre. Often called “the father of rock ‘n’ roll,” Freed introduced the phrase “rock and roll” in the early 1950s and said, “Rock and roll is a river of music that has absorbed many streams: rhythm and blues, jazz, rag time, cowboy songs, country songs, folk songs. All have contributed to the big beat.”

Celebrate the tenth annual International Cloud Lovers Day. It’s a day to look up at the sky, wherever you are on planet Earth, and spend a few moments appreciating the beauty and splendor of clouds.

An event planner from Boston, Danny Bloom, co-created the celebration while living in Taiwan. A new blog features great cloud photos, a cloud-spotter app, and much more from the Cloud Appreciation Society. (2007)

More Notable Birthdays: Russell Crowe, 55, Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)