Italian director (1929-1989). The son of silent film director Vincenzo Leone (sometimes credited as Roberto Roberti) and actress Bice Valerian, Leone was born in Naples but spent a lot of his youth in Rome. He also attended school with his future musical collaborator Ennio Morricone

His father was a member of the Resistance in Rome during World War II, but he insisted that Sergio, then in his teens, must not join him. He studied law for a time, but eventually decided to try his hand at film work.

For a time, he wrote screenplays for sword-and-sandal historical epics and worked as an assistant director on "Quo Vadis" and "Ben-Hur." While working on "The Last Days of Pompeii" in 1959, the director, Mario Bonnard, fell sick and wasn't able to finish the picture. Leone was asked to take over as director, which gave him hands-on experience on making a cheap movie look like a very expensive one. This ended up being a very valuable skill once he turned his attention from Italian epics to Westerns. 

Leone's best known movies include "A Fistful of Dollars," "For a Few Dollars More," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "Once Upon a Time in the West," and "Once Upon a Time in America." He did not invent the spaghetti Western, but he helped to make it popular.

Among his trademarks was the extreme close-up and the use of theme music for each character. At one time, he was going to direct "The Godfather." He was also considering directing "Flash Gordon," but Leone was a big fan of the original Alex Raymond comic strip, and when he realized the script for the movie wasn't going to look much like Raymond's comics, he backed out of the project. 

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