On Monday, July 5, Richard Donner, the Hollywood filmmaker, and producer best remembered for the first “Superman” movie and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, passed away at the age of 91.
His wife, film producer Lauren Schuler Donner and his business manager have not revealed the cause of his death yet, according to Deadline.
Donner was a monument in the entertainment sector via The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, and four Lethal Weapon hits, though he had been less active over the past decade.
He and his wife headed the production company The Donners’ Company, which is renowned for producing the Free Willy and X-Men franchises. Donner has been described as “one of Hollywood’s most reliable makers of action blockbusters” by film historian Michael Barson.
He made his name with big-budget summer movies and became a prominent director in the 1970s and 1980s.
Donner began his career in the industry in the early 50s. When he appeared in Martin Ritt’s television production of “Of Human Bondage,” he was advised that he would reach his best potential as a director rather than an actor by the director. That advice proved to be more than correct.
He later started off directing documentaries, industrial films, and commercials before breaking into television shows in the late 50s with the “Wanted: Dead or Alive” series, and took over popular shows such as “Perry Mason,” “Route 66,” “The Fugitive,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Get Smart,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Kojak” and “The Streets of San Francisco.”
Donner eventually made his first debut in 1961 with the low-budget “X-15,” starring Charles Bronson and several British movies including “Salt and Pepper” and “Twinky” (aka “Lola”) in the 1960s as well as 1969’s “Child Bride.”
He then made two consecutive hits with the thriller “The Omen” in 1975 and “Superman” in 1978. Yet, he left the sequel of the superhero movie over conflict with the films’ producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind.
Donner marked 1985 with the medieval romance “Ladyhawke” which although did not make as many profits but was highly rated and the classic adventure comedy “The Goonies.”
Donner also contributed his skills as exec producer with “X-Men” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” each of which made hundreds of million dollars worldwide.
But he must probably be remembered for one of his best earners: the famous action franchise “Lethal Weapon,” and it’s three not less successful sequels which brought in around $1 billion.
Donner in December last year informed that he was going to return with a fifth Lethal Weapon movie, which he promised: “This is the final one. It’s both my privilege and duty to put it to bed. It’s exciting, actually… Hahaha! It’s the last one, I’ll promise you that.”
Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover paid tribute to Donner.
‘My heart is broken. Working with Dick Donner, Mel Gibson and the Lethal Weapon Team was one of the proudest moments of my career,’ said the actor.
“I will forever be grateful to him for that Dick genuinely cared about me, my life and my family. We were friends and loved each other far beyond collaborating for the screen and the success that the Lethal Weapon franchise brought us. I will so greatly miss him.”