Groundbreaking and controversial Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci has died of cancer at the age of 77, according to Italian filmmaker’s publicists. Bertolucci made his name as part of the new wave of cinema beginning in the early 1960s, and made movie history in 1972 with the sexually explicit and sensational Last Tango in Paris. He then successfully crossed over into mainstream Hollywood filmmaking with 1987’s epic The Last Emperor, which won all nine Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

Bertolucci had been in poor health since a failed herniated disc surgery confined him to a wheelchair in 2003 – his last film was 2014’s drama Me and You. He was married to British-Italian screenwriter and frequent collaborator Clare Peploe from 1979 until his death. He had no children.

Bernardo Bertolucci, director of ‘Last Tango in Paris’ and ‘The Last Emperor,’ dies at 77


Editorial credit: Matteo Chinellato /