Italian film director and master of comedy Mario Monicelli, 95, committed suicide Monday by throwing himself out of a hospital window, the ANSA news agency reported, citing hospital sources.
Monicelli jumped from a window in the San Giovanni hospital in Rome where he was being treated for a prostate tumor, it said.
"Death doesn't frighten me, it bothers me. It bothers me for example that someone can be there tomorrow and but me I am no longer there. What bothers me is not longer being alive, not being dead," he said in a 2007 interview with Vanity Fair.
Monicelli made his name with films such as "Amici Mei" (My Dear Friends"), considered the best of Italian-style comedies and one of his best films.
His other famous films include "Big Deal on Madonna Street" from 1958, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale, and "La Granda Guerra"(The Great War") a year later.
It was this last film that won him the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival and an Oscar nomination.
Monicelli, born in 1915 in Viareggio in Tuscany, also worked in theatre and television. In all he directed some 65 films.
His popularity in Italy was in evidence Monday evening when his death was announced live on Rai television.
He was also known as a leftist and critical of what he said were the materialist, philistine values embodied by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
In 2001 he collaborated on a documentary about the G8 summit in Genoa where hundreds of anti-globalisation protesters were injured in clashes with police.
Just last June he called on students to protest against culture budget cuts proposed by Berlusconi's right-wing coalition government.
"Italy is known overseas only for its culture and it is just that that they are looking today to fight," he said, denouncing at the same time the "get-rich culture" of the times.