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Leonardo DiCaprio – Hollywood’s wonder-boy
 
Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles, California, to the family of Irmelin Indenbirken, a secretary and an immigrant from Germany with Russian ancestry, and George DiCaprio, a half Italian and half German underground comic artist.
 
The story of DiCaprio's maternal grandmother is worthy of a soap opera. Helene Indenbirken was born as Yelena Smirnova (Елена Смирнова) in 1915 somewhere in the western part of the Russian Empire - many decades later she would still treat her famous grandson to draniks (potato pancakes), a dish popular in Belorussia. It is not known how exactly Yelena found herself in Germany, but it is known that her daughter, Leonardo DiCaprio's mother, was born in an air raid shelter in 1943, during the Allied bombing campaign in Germany.
 
DiCaprio's career began with his appearance in an ad for Matchbox cars at 14. In 1990, he got his first notable role in the TV series based on the movie Parenthood. After Parenthood, DiCaprio had bit parts on several shows, including The New Lassie, Roseanne and the long-standing hit Santa Barbara, plus a lead role in Growing Pains. This gave him prominence and earned him two nominations for the Young Artist Award.
 
His breakthrough in cinema came in 1992, when he was handpicked by Robert De Niro out of 400 young actors for the lead role in This Boy's Life, co-starring the actor himself. Afterwards he was invited to star in Romeo + Juliet (1996), and the following year - in James Cameron's Titanic (1997), which brought him international fame and became the highest grossing movie at that time.
 
Titanic created a phenomenon called "Leo-Mania" - cult-like following among teenage girls and young women. In once instance, more than 200 fans contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and strongly protested his not being nominated for the 70th Academy Awards!
 
In the 2000s, DiCaprio was able to finally prove his numerous critics wrong, demonstrating extraordinary acting abilities in Catch Me If You Can (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), The Departed (2006), Blood Diamond (2007), Inception (2010) and The Great Gatsby (2013). These films brought him a veritable shower of awards: five Oscar nominations in several categories, three BAFTA awards, plus two Golden Globes and six more nominations for the award, as well as two MTV Movie Awards plus five more nominations!
 
DiCaprio's bad luck with Academy Awards (so many nominations but no golden uncle Oscars statuettes so far!) has been a favorite subject of many a Hollywood pundit. The "Oscar curse" is equally lamented by his fans and cheered upon by those who feel he has never gotten out of his earlier just-a-pretty-boy-on-the-screen image.
 
After The Great Gatsby DiCaprio decided to take a break from acting and continue his prominent work for the preservation of environment. In 2009, he bought an island near Belize, where he is planning to create an eco-friendly resort. And in November 2010, he donated $1,000,000 to the Wildlife Conservation Society. 
 
DiCaprio's personal life has been a constant subject of international media coverage. The actor has shown a penchant for supermodels, dating: Kristen Zang, Emma Miller, Gisele Bündchen, Bar Refaeli, Erin Heatherton and Toni Garrn! The only notable exception was actress Blake Lively, who he dated in 2011-2012.
 
Sources:
"Leonardo DiCaprio: Modern-Day Romeo"-  Grace Catalano (February 1997, New York)
"Leonardo DiCaprio Biography" - Filmreference.com (1974) 

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