Clint Eastwood was amused by Leone's on-set behavior during their collaborations, having called the short, heavy Leone "Yosemite Sam" for his over-the-top temper and attempts to act like a cowboy through his thick Italian accent.
Although they did not work together until 1964, as children Leone and composer Ennio Morricone were classmates.
Aside from saying 'Goodbye', Sergio Leone never spoke a word of English and always relied on a translator when talking to American actors. According to an interview with Eli Wallach, he spoke to Sergio in broken up French and discovered he is fluent in the language. This is how he communicated to Sergio Leone when shooting The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly").
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945- 1985". Pages 577-581. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Claimed his lifelong ambition was to remake Gone with the Wind (1939).
Composer Ennio Morricone has said that Leone asked him to compose a film's music before the start of principal photography - contrary to normal practice. He would then play the music to the actors during takes to enhance their performance.
Famously feuded with director Peter Bogdanovich over the directing reigns of Duck, You Sucker (1971) - Leone claimed that Bogdanovich was fearful of such a large production and backed out at the last minute. Bogdonavich stands by the story that Leone hired him as a patsy, as he wanted to direct the film all along.
He controversially baited his former collaborator, Clint Eastwood, by claiming after making Once Upon a Time in America (1984) that Robert De Niro was a real "actor," unlike Eastwood. Eastwood seemingly brushed off the insult, which may have resulted by Leone's jealousy that Eastwood was a more successful director by that time than Leone himself.
He didn't learn to speak English fluently until he was preparing Once Upon a Time in America (1984), having made 5 previously films with American actors by broken attempts at English (by Leone), Italian (by the actors) or French.
He died at the age of 60 from a heart attack, which was most likely resulted from his eating habits. He had an infamous love for food and gained weight throughout his life until he was borderline obese in the 1980s.
He had two daughters, Francesca Leone and Raffaella Leone, and a son, Andrea Leone. Francesca appeared in her father's For a Few Dollars More (1965) as a baby. Both girls were reportedly among the extras in Flagstone in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). For Leone's final film, Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Francesca was given a bit part and Raffaella was credited as Assistant Costume Designer.
His callous behavior towards his collaborators reached a high-water mark during the shooting of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) ("Once Upon a Time in the West"), when bit-part actor Al Mulock committed suicide on the set of the movie. Murlock, who also had appeared as the one-armed bounty hunter in Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), jumped from a hotel on location in Guadix, Spain. Production manager Claudio Mancini was sitting in a room in the hotel with Mickey Knox, an expatriate American who had been hired by Leone as a screenwriter; they both saw Mulock's body pass by their window. Knox recalled in an interview that while Mancini put Mulock in his car to drive him to the hospital, Leone said to Mancini, "Get the costume! We need the costume!" Mulock was wearing the costume he wore in the movie when he made his fatal leap.
His favorite actor from childhood was Henry Fonda, who was offered a role in every one of Leone's early Westerns. After Fonda finally worked with him on Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), he returned the compliment, later citing that film as his favorite role.
His favorite movies were reportedly (in no particular order) Yojimbo (1961), Warlock (1959), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), and Vera Cruz (1954).
His last project was "Leningrad" about the siege of Leningrad during World War II. He died of a heart attack two days before he was to leave for Los Angeles to sign the contracts.
Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1978.
Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971.
Son of director Roberto Roberti.
Started many feuds with his collaborators - Sergio Donati, for not being credited for co-writing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966); Luciano Vincenzoni; and Tonino Valerii, whom he usurped on the set of My Name is Nobody (1973) by directing many scenes of that film.