Dino De Laurentiis: The Untold Truth Of Giada's Grandfather

There's no denying that Giada De Laurentiis is a star in her own right. With her stunning looks and affable stoveside manner, how could she not be? Over her career as a chef, a Food Network personality, a restaurateur, and a businesswoman who has created a successful cooking-themed empire, she has come a long way since her breakout show, Everyday Italian

Of course, it's worth noting that De Laurentiis comes from a family that has a history of building success stories. In fact, one could say that it wasn't exactly a surprise that she ended up taking her cooking skills and fusing them with the entertainment industry. After all, the De Laurentiis family has ample experience in creating and managing show business juggernauts, and her granddad started playing that particular game decades before Giada even picked up her first ladle. Let's take a look at the untold truth of Giada De Laurentiis' grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis.

Dino De Laurentiis was an old-school movie producer behind some of your favorite films

Despite Giada De Laurentiis' success as a celebrity chef, many film buffs reading this might be more likely to say "Giada who?" than "Dino who?" After all, Dino De Laurentiis was an extremely powerful Hollywood producer, who Encyclopedia Britannica tells us started producing movies in his native Italy when he was 20. After he scored big with 1949's Bitter Rice, he kept both making more movies on the homefront, and slowly amassing Stateside influence. 

De Laurentiis eventually became a massive player in Hollywood, and a quick look at his IMDb page reveals that he may very possibly have produced a number of your favorite flicks – regardless of what your preferred genre is. Both as an official producer and in more low-key, uncredited executive producer roles, he's played a part in giving us stone-cold classics like Serpico, Blue Velvet, and La Strada, as well as a surprisingly robust back catalog of beloved genre fares, like  Flash GordonBarbarella, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventureand Army of DarknessAs The Guardian notes, we can also thank him for a certain screen presence called Arnold Schwarzenegger, courtesy of 1976's Conan the Barbarian. The Austrian Oak himself certainly appreciates De Laurentiis. "He never feared failure, and this is the only way you can be successful in life," Schwarzenegger has said of the producer. "I learned that from Dino."

Like Giada, Dino De Laurentiis was involved in the food industry

Though he wasn't quite as successful as his granddaughter in this particular respect, Dino De Laurentiis was also enthusiastic about cooking and liked to work in the food business. In fact, Time notes that he even established his own Italian food store in 1982. DDL Foodshow was a mighty effort that a Time reporter of the era described in opulent terms: "He has filled his showpiece with a 32-ft. counter for cold salads, 20 ft. of charcuterie and 139 chefs, bakers and pastrymakers," they wrote. "De Laurentiis is no stranger to the delights of kitchen duty. 'When I cook,' says he, 'my brain stops completely.'" 

Per The Baltimore SunGiada De Laurentiis was mindful of this legacy when she announced the opening of her Giada restaurant in Las Vegas. "I thought I'd start with something much smaller," she said, but she evoked her grandfather's DDL Foodshow as an example of how things got a little bit out of hand. "We're little Italian people who want to pretend like we're big."

It's worth noting that DDL Foodshow wasn't even Dino De Laurentiis' first foray into the food business. Before he started transitioning into the movie business, he worked as a sales rep for his family's pasta business, Pastaficio Moderno. Though only 15 at the time, this is where De Laurentiis honed the silver tongue that would come in handy over the many twists and turns of his career. 

Dino De Laurentiis married a movie star

If Giada De Laurentiis' glamorous looks and tendency to get caught in the occasional controversy are reminiscent of a classic movie star, that's simply because she has the movie business flowing in her veins in more ways than one. As The Guardian tells us, Dino De Laurentiis married actress Silvana Mangano, who The Washington Post reports worked with him as the star of Giuseppe De Santis' neorealism classic, Bitter Rice. 

After rising to prominence, Giada's grandmother was in high demand, and Hollywood came calling – but unlike contemporaries like Sophia Loren, she largely resisted the siren's call of the English-speaking film industry, opting for a temporary stint of quieter life before eventually returning to the Italian movie business. One possible reason for her reluctance to become a fully-fledged Hollywood diva was her intense desire for privacy. "I agreed to appear in Bitter Rice more because I needed money than out of the desire to have a film career," she once said about her breakout role. 

Dino De Laurentiis loved taking risks

Dino De Laurentiis wasn't just someone who focused on blockbusters and hits with the lowest common denominator. Per Timehe was a huge proponent of filmmakers who were stubbornly executing their own vision, regardless of the (sometimes significant) cost. He's the guy who gave young David Lynch the opportunity to make Duneand at various points of his history, he championed visionaries ranging from Federico Fellini to the fallen-from-grace Deer Hunter maker Michael Cimino. 

On one hand, De Laurentiis' risk-taking nature reportedly enabled him to, say, deal with mafia threats simply by arranging a meeting with them and sorting things out (via The Guardian). On the other, things sometimes went cartoonishly wrong. He once hired a famed minimalist director to direct a film about the Bible ... only to promptly fire the guy and dramatically downscale the multi-movie project when he found out that the director was only going to shoot some animal footprint footage for the Noah's Ark part. Problem was, De Laurentiis had already acquired a veritable zoo of animals for the flick. 

Not that the occasional menagerie mishap ever kept De Laurentiis down. He was a life-long risk-taker who happily followed his sometimes expensive vision. "Dino is never happier than in a King Kong situation, where the stakes are enormous, where he can win or lose everything," an insider once said, regarding the producer's high-risk 1976 remake of the classic giant ape movie.

Giada De Laurentiis and Dino De Laurentiis were close

As The Hollywood Reporter tells us, Dino De Laurentiis died in 2010, having lived to a ripe, old age of 91. Apart from a treasure trove of movies, he left behind a grieving family – including his granddaughter. Giada De Laurentiis had nothing but kind words to say about her granddad, and she made clear in no uncertain terms just what the family patriarch had meant to her. "My grandfather was a true inspiration," she said. "He was my biggest champion in life and a constant source for wisdom and advice. I will miss him dearly."

Indeed, the legendary producer and his fascination with food seem to have been a profound influence on the celebrity chef. According to Biography.comyoung Giada was a common sight at his DDL Foodshow, and she often helped with cooking during the family's Sunday lunches at Dino's place. The chef hasn't made her appreciation of her grandfather secret, either. During season 3 of Food Network's Giada in Italy, she set up a family celebration in honor of him and reproduced some of his all-time favorite dishes such as Ravioli alla Caprese (via Food Network).