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Richard Donner (born Richard Donald Schwartzberg; April 24, 1930 – July 5, 2021) was an American filmmaker whose notable works included some of the most financially-successful films during the
New Hollywood The New Hollywood, also referred to as the American New Wave or sometimes called the Hollywood Renaissance, refers to a movement in American film history from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when a new generation of young filmmakers came to prom ...
era. According to film historian Michael Barson, Donner was "one of Hollywood's most reliable makers of action blockbusters". His career spanned over 50 years, crossing multiple genres and filmmaking trends. Donner began his career in 1957 as a television director, helming episodes of series like ''
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ''The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'' is an American spy fiction television series produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television and first broadcast on NBC. The series follows secret agents, played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, who work for a sec ...
'', '' The Fugitive'', and ''
The Twilight Zone ''The Twilight Zone'' is an American media franchise A media franchise, also known as multimedia franchise, is a collection of related media in which several derivative works have been produced from an original creative work of fiction, such as ...
''. He made his film debut with the low-budget aviation drama ''
X-15 The North American X-15 is a hypersonic In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that greatly exceeds the speed of sound, often stated as starting at speeds of speed of sound, Mach 5 and above. The precise Mach number at which a craft ca ...
'' in 1961, but had his critical and commercial breakthrough with the horror film ''
The Omen ''The Omen'' is a 1976 American-British supernatural horror film Supernatural horror film is a film genre that combines aspects of horror film and supernatural film. Supernatural occurrences in such films often include ghosts and demons, and many ...
'' in 1976. He directed the landmark
superhero film A superhero film (or superhero movie) is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...
''
Superman Superman is a superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that possesses Superpower (ability), ''superpowers'', abilities beyond those of ordinary people, and fits the role of the hero, typically using his or her powers t ...
'' in 1978, which provided an inspiration for the fantasy film genre to eventually gain artistic respectability and commercial dominance. Donner later went on to direct films in the 1980s such as ''
The Goonies ''The Goonies'' is a 1985 American adventure comedy film co-produced and directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by Chris Columbus (filmmaker), Chris Columbus, based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. In the film, kids who l ...
'' and ''
Scrooged ''Scrooged'' is a 1988 American Christmas Christmas (or the Feast of the Nativity) is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration ...
'', while reinvigorating the buddy film genre with the ''Lethal Weapon'' series. Donner and his wife,
Lauren Lauren may be a given name or surname. The name's meaning may be "laurel tree", "sweet of honor", or "wisdom". It is derived from the French name Laurence, a feminine version of Laurent (name), Laurent, which is in turn derived from the Roman surn ...
, owned their production company The Donners' Company (formerly Donner/Shuler Donner Productions), best known for producing the ''
Free Willy ''Free Willy'' is a 1993 American family film, family Drama (film and television), drama film, directed by Simon Wincer, produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Jennie Lew Tugend, written by Keith A. Walker and Corey Blechman from a story by Walker an ...
'' and ''
X-Men The X-Men are a fictional team of superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character Stock (also capital stock) is all of the shares into which ownership of a corporation is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary In Am ...
'' franchises. Donner also produced the '' Tales from the Crypt'' television series, and co-wrote several comic books for ''Superman'' publisher
DC Comics DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of DC Entertainment DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of #DC Entertainment, DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Warner Bros. ...
. In 2000, Donner received the President's Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.


Early years

Richard Donald Schwartzberg was born in
the Bronx The Bronx () is a borough of New York City New York City is composed of five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Each borough is coextensive with a respective Administrative divisions of New York (state)#Count ...
, New York City, to
Russian Jewish The history of the Jews in Russia and areas historically connected with it goes back at least 1,500 years. Jews in Russia have historically constituted a large religious and ethnic diaspora; the Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonl ...
parents, Hattie (Horowitz) and Fred Schwartzberg. His father owned a small furniture-manufacturing business and his mother was a stay at home mother. He had a sister, Joan. His grandfather owned a movie theatre in Brooklyn, which had an early influence on his perception of film. After graduating from high school, Donner served in the
U.S. Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = " Anchors Aweigh" ...
, becoming an aerial photographer. He briefly attended
New York University New York University (NYU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of ne ...
but left to pursue a career in acting, relocating to Los Angeles and adopting the stage name "Richard Donner".


Career


Television

Initially, Donner wanted to develop a career as an actor. He gained a bit part in a television program directed by
Martin Ritt Martin Ritt (March 2, 1914 – December 8, 1990) was an American director and actor who worked in both film and theater, noted for his socially conscious films. Some of the movies he directed include ''The Long, Hot Summer'' (1958), ''The Black ...
, who encouraged Donner to become a director instead. Ritt hired Donner as his assistant. Later, Donner was on the staff of
Desilu Desilu Productions () was an American television production company founded and co-owned by husband and wife Desi Arnaz Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III (March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986), better known as Desi Arnaz, was a Cuban-Amer ...
, where he directed commercials. He made the transition into television dramas in the late 1950s, directing some episodes of the
Steve McQueen Terrence Stephen McQueen (March 24, 1930November 7, 1980), known as Steve McQueen in his film career, nicknamed the "King of Cool" (during moto races used alias Harvey Mushman), was an American actor. His persona, emphasized during the height ...
western serial '' Wanted Dead or Alive'' and the
Chuck Connors Kevin Joseph Aloysius "Chuck" Connors (April 10, 1921 – November 10, 1992) was an American actor, writer, and professional basketball and baseball player. He is one of only 13 athletes in the history of American professional sports to have pla ...
western ''
The Rifleman ''The Rifleman'' is an American Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in ...
''. During his early career as a director he worked on over twenty-five television series, including ''
Have Gun – Will Travel ''Have Gun – Will Travel'' is an American Western series that was produced and originally broadcast by CBS on both television and radio from 1957 through 1963. The television version of the series was rated number three or number four in the ...
'', '' The Fugitive'', ''
Combat! ''Combat!'' is an American television drama series In film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings ...
'', ''
Get Smart ''Get Smart'' is an American comedy television series, parodying the secret agent genre that had become widely popular in the first half of the 1960s with the release of James Bond films The List of James Bond films, James Bond film series ...

Get Smart
'', ''
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ''The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'' is an American spy fiction television series produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television and first broadcast on NBC. The series follows secret agents, played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, who work for a sec ...
'', ''
The Wild Wild West ''The Wild Wild West'' is an American Western espionage and science fiction File:Imagination 195808.jpg, Space exploration, as predicted in August 1958 in the science fiction magazine ''Imagination (magazine), Imagination.'' Science fiction ...
'', ''
Gilligan's Island ''Gilligan's Island'' is an American sitcom A sitcom, clipping Clipping may refer to: Words * Clipping (morphology) In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every ...
'', ''
Kojak ''Kojak'' was an American action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake (now ) in the south and in the north. The service was fi ...
'', and ''
The Twilight Zone ''The Twilight Zone'' is an American media franchise A media franchise, also known as multimedia franchise, is a collection of related media in which several derivative works have been produced from an original creative work of fiction, such as ...
'' (such as the episodes " Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" starring
William Shatner William "Bill" Shatner (born March 22, 1931) is a Canadian actor, author, producer, director, screenwriter, and singer. In his seven decades of acting, he became a cultural icon for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS ''Enterpri ...

William Shatner
and " From Agnes—With Love" starring
Wally Cox Wallace Maynard Cox (December 6, 1924 – February 15, 1973) was an American actor and comedian, particularly associated with the early years of television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Medi ...
), as well as the serial '' Danger Island'' from the children's program ''
The Banana Splits ''The Banana Splits Adventure Hour'' (also known simply as ''The Banana Splits'') is an American television variety show produced by Hanna-Barbera, Hanna-Barbera Productions and featuring the Banana Splits, a fictional rock band composed of fou ...
''. In the 1990s, Donner served as executive producer of the
HBO Home Box Office (HBO) is an American pay television Pay television also known as subscription television, premium television or, when referring to an individual service, a premium channel, refers to subscription-based television Tel ...
anthology horror series '' Tales from the Crypt'', based on the EC Comics series of the same name. He directed three episodes during its run ("Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone", "The Ventriloquist's Dummy", "Showdown"), and also produced three feature film spinoffs; ''
Demon Knight ''Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight'' is a 1995 American horror comedy film Comedy horror or horror comedy, is a literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings spec ...
'', ''
Bordello of Blood ''Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood'' is a 1996 American horror comedy film directed by Gilbert Adler and written by Adler and A. L. Katz. Dennis Miller stars as Rafe Guttman, a private investigator A private investigator (often a ...
'', and ''Ritual''.


Films

Donner's first feature film was ''
X-15 The North American X-15 is a hypersonic In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that greatly exceeds the speed of sound, often stated as starting at speeds of speed of sound, Mach 5 and above. The precise Mach number at which a craft ca ...
'' (1961), which starred David McLean,
Charles Bronson Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky; November 3, 1921 – August 30, 2003) was an American actor who was often cast in roles of police officers, gunfighters, or vigilantes in revenge-oriented plot lines. He had long-term collaborati ...
, and
Mary Tyler Moore Mary Tyler Moore (December 29, 1936 – January 25, 2017) was an American actress, producer, and social advocate. She was widely known for her prominent television sitcom roles in ''The Dick Van Dyke Show ''The Dick Van Dyke Show'' is an Am ...
. Seven years passed before he directed his next, '' Salt and Pepper'' (1968), with
Sammy Davis Jr. Samuel George Davis Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American singer, dancer, actor, vaudevillian Vaudeville (; ) is a theatre, theatrical genre of variety show, variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 19th c ...
, and
Peter Lawford Peter Sydney Ernest Lawford (born Peter Sydney Ernest Aylen; 7 September 1923 – 24 December 1984) was an English-born American actor, producer, and socialite A socialite is a person, typically a woman from a wealthy and aristocratic backgro ...
. His breakthrough film was ''
The Omen ''The Omen'' is a 1976 American-British supernatural horror film Supernatural horror film is a film genre that combines aspects of horror film and supernatural film. Supernatural occurrences in such films often include ghosts and demons, and many ...
'' (1976). A supernatural horror made in the wake of the success of ''
The Exorcist ''The Exorcist'' is an American media franchise A media franchise, also known as multimedia franchise, is a collection of related media in which several derivative works have been produced from an original creative work of fiction, such as a film ...
'', the film stars
Gregory Peck Eldred Gregory Peck (April 5, 1916 – June 12, 2003) was an American actor and one of the most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s. In 1999, the American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American film ...

Gregory Peck
, David Warner, and
Lee Remick Lee Ann Remick (December 14, 1935 – July 2, 1991) was an American actress and singer. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress The Academy Award for Best Actress is an award presented annually by the (AMPAS). It is gi ...
. It was the fifth-highest-grossing film of 1976.


''Superman'' (1978)

In 1978, Donner directed '' Superman: The Movie'', starring
Christopher Reeve Christopher D'Olier Reeve (September 25, 1952 – October 10, 2004) was an American actor, director, and activist, best known for playing the titular main character in the film ''Superman Superman is a superhero A superhero or supe ...
in the title role. Donner approached the film with the concept of creating
verisimilitude In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, l ...
, an intuitive feeling in the audience evoked that makes the fantasy story feel real within the story's context. It was a hit worldwide, projecting Reeve to international fame. The film co-starred
Margot Kidder Margaret Ruth Kidder (October 17, 1948 – May 13, 2018), known professionally as Margot Kidder, was a Canadian-American actress and activist Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in Social change, soci ...
as
Lois Lane Lois Lane is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, she first appeared in Action Comics 1, ''Action Comics'' #1 (June 1938). Lois is an award-winning ...

Lois Lane
,
Marlon Brando Marlon Brando Jr. (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) was an American actor with a career spanning 60 years, during which he won many accolades, including two Academy Awards for Best Actor, three BAFTA Awards for Best Foreign Actor and two Go ...
as
Jor-El Jor-El, originally known as Jor-L, is a fictional character In , a character is a or other being in a (such as a , , , , or ). The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "ficti ...
, and
Gene Hackman Eugene Allen Hackman (born January 30, 1930) is an American retired actor and novelist. In a career that has spanned more than six decades, Hackman has won two Academy Awards The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards ...
as archvillain
Lex Luthor Alexander Joseph "Lex" Luthor ( or ) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Lex Luthor originally appeared in ''Action Comics'' #23 (cover da ...
. At the box office, it grossed $134 million domestically. Principal photography of ''Superman'' included filming of its first sequel, ''
Superman II ''Superman II'' is a 1980 superhero film directed by Richard Lester and written by Mario Puzo and David Newman (screenwriter), David and Leslie Newman from a story by Puzo based on the DC Comics character Superman. It is the second installment in ...
''. Donner filmed most of ''Superman II'' with the expectation he would complete the sequel after the release of ''Superman''. Despite the first film's success, Donner was fired from ''Superman II''. Throughout the filming of both ''Superman'' films, Donner had a difficult relationship with executive producers Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind and producer
Pierre Spengler Pierre Spengler (born 5 June 1947) is a French film producer. He initiated the first three Superman (Salkind films), ''Superman'' films starring Christopher Reeve and produced them with Alexander Salkind, Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Overview P ...
. The Salkinds refused Donner's demand that Spengler be fired; instead, the Salkinds replaced Donner as director of ''Superman II'' with
Richard Lester Richard Lester Liebman (born January 19, 1932), commonly referred to as Dick Lester, is an American film director based in the United Kingdom. He is best known for directing the Beatles' films ''A Hard Day's Night (film), A Hard Day's Night'' (1 ...

Richard Lester
, who had worked with the Salkinds on ''
The Three Musketeers ''The Three Musketeers'' (french: link=no, Les Trois Mousquetaires ) is a French historical adventure novel written in 1844 by French author Alexandre Dumas. It is in the swashbuckler genre, which has heroic, chivalrous swordsmen who fight fo ...
'' and '' The Four Musketeers'' and as an uncredited producer on ''Superman''. Following Donner's dismissal, Marlon Brando's scenes were removed from ''Superman II'' and much of the film was re-shot under Lester's direction. Gene Hackman refused to return for re-shoots; consequently, all the Lex Luthor scenes that appear in ''Superman II'' were filmed by Donner, although Donner refused to be credited.
Rotten Tomatoes Rotten Tomatoes is an American review-aggregation website for film and television. The company was launched in August 1998 by three undergraduate students at the University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley ...

Rotten Tomatoes
' summary states that "''Superman II'' meets, if not exceeds, the standard set by its predecessor." Donner continued to promote the view that his contribution was superior to the rest of the series. '' Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut'' was released on November 28, 2006, the same date as the DVD release of the summer film ''
Superman Returns ''Superman Returns'' is a 2006 American superhero film A superhero film (or superhero movie) is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that comm ...
''. This version of the film features the re-insertion of Marlon Brando's scenes as
Jor-El Jor-El, originally known as Jor-L, is a fictional character In , a character is a or other being in a (such as a , , , , or ). The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "ficti ...
and relies on a minimum of footage shot by Richard Lester.


Post-''Superman'' career

Donner directed mixed commercial flops (''
Inside Moves ''Inside Moves'' is a 1980 American drama film In film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of ...
'', '' Radio Flyer'') and successes (''
The Goonies ''The Goonies'' is a 1985 American adventure comedy film co-produced and directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by Chris Columbus (filmmaker), Chris Columbus, based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. In the film, kids who l ...
'', the ''Lethal Weapon'' series, ''
Scrooged ''Scrooged'' is a 1988 American Christmas Christmas (or the Feast of the Nativity) is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration ...
'', and ''
Conspiracy Theory A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy A conspiracy, also known as a plot, is a secret plan or agreement between persons (called conspirers or conspirators) for an unlawful or harmful purp ...
''). In the case of ''Superman'', it was Donner who insisted the subject of the comic book
superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that possesses Superpower (ability), ''superpowers'', abilities beyond those of ordinary people, and fits the role of the hero, typically using his or her powers to help the World peace, world b ...

superhero
should be treated "straight", that is, portrayed with respect to the fantasy genre's particular conventions and tone, rather than "
camp Camp may refer to: Outdoor accommodation and recreation * Campsite or campground, a recreational outdoor sleeping and eating site * a temporary settlement for nomads * Camp, a term used in New England, Northern Ontario and New Brunswick to describ ...
"; this approach strongly influenced later genre directors such as
Tim Burton Timothy Walter Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American film director, producer, writer, artist and former animator. He is known for his Gothic film, gothic fantasy and horror films such as ''Beetlejuice'' (1988), ''Edward Scissorhands'' ( ...
(''
Batman Batman is a superhero who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and debuted in Detective Comics 27, the 27th issue of the comic book ''Detective Comics'' on Marc ...
'', ''
Batman Returns ''Batman Returns'' is a 1992 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Denise Di Novi and Burton, based on the DC Comics DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of #DC Entertainment, D ...
''),
Bryan Singer Bryan Jay Singer (born September 17, 1965) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is the founder of Bad Hat Harry Productions Bad Hat Harry Productions is an American film and television production company founded in 1994 ...

Bryan Singer
(''
X-Men The X-Men are a fictional team of superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character Stock (also capital stock) is all of the shares into which ownership of a corporation is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary In Am ...
'', '' X2'', '' X-Men: Days of Future Past''),
Christopher Nolan Christopher Edward Nolan (; born 30 July 1970) is a British-American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His films have grossed more than US$5billion worldwide, and have garnered 11 Academy Awards The Academy Awards, popularly ...
(''
Batman Begins ''Batman Begins'' is a 2005 superhero film A superhero film (or superhero movie) is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas ...
'', '' The Dark Knight'', ''
The Dark Knight Rises ''The Dark Knight Rises'' is a 2012 superhero film A superhero film (or superhero movie) is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of used to simulate experiences that communicate idea ...
''),
Kevin Feige Kevin Feige ( ; born June 2, 1973) is an American film and television producer who has been the president of Marvel Studios Marvel Studios, LLC (originally known as Marvel Films from 1993 to 1996) is an American film and television produc ...

Kevin Feige
(), and
Zack Snyder Zachary Edward Snyder (born March 1, 1966) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and cinematographer. He made his feature film debut in 2004 with '' Dawn of the Dead'', a remake of the 1978 horror film of the same name. Since th ...

Zack Snyder
('' Man of Steel'', '' Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'', ''
Zack Snyder's Justice League ''Zack Snyder's Justice League'', often referred to as the "Snyder Cut", is the 2021 director's cut of the 2017 American superhero film ''Justice League (film), Justice League.'' It presents ''Justice League''—the fifth film of the DC Extend ...
''), who have made successful superhero films of their own.


=''Lethal Weapon'' (1987–1998)

= Donner's next blockbuster film was the action comedy ''
Lethal Weapon ''Lethal Weapon'' is a 1987 American buddy cop Buddy cop is a film and television genre with plots involving two people of very different and conflicting personalities who are forced to work together to solve a crime and/or defeat criminals, som ...
'', written by
Shane Black Shane Black (born December 16, 1961) is an American filmmaker and actor who has written such films as ''Lethal Weapon ''Lethal Weapon'' is a 1987 American buddy cop Buddy cop is a film and television genre with plots involving two people of v ...
. It starred
Mel Gibson Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson (born January 3, 1956) is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is best known for his action hero The archetypal action hero or action heroine is the protagonist 200px, William ...

Mel Gibson
as a widowed
narcotics The term narcotic (, from ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as ...
detective with a suicidal bent "who breaks every rule for the sheer joy of it". It co-starred
Danny Glover Daniel Lebern Glover (; born July 22, 1946) is an American actor, film director, and political activist. He is widely known for his lead role as Roger Murtaugh Roger Murtaugh is a fictional character in the ''Lethal Weapon (franchise), Letha ...

Danny Glover
as a calm
homicide Homicide is an act of a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

homicide
detective with a loving family and consideration for retirement. The film's action sequences were considered "truly spectacular" and made the film one of the year's biggest hits. Donner directed six films starring Mel Gibson in total, creating a ''Lethal Weapon'' franchise with three sequels; the last of these was ''Lethal Weapon 4'', released in 1998. In an interview in 2000, Gibson described his impressions of Donner:
Uncle Dick. He's a great guy, just terrific. Extremely professional. He's an old veteran and has an understanding of film that is the culmination of years of experience. He's got his technical stuff down, his vision down. No matter what you say about Dick, it underrates him. He really loves what he's doing, loves working with actors, and he allows you freedom to explore all kinds of areas. "All right, kid," he'll say, and slap you on the back and let you try something, because even he doesn't know sometimes. He's just an extremely charming, talented, great fuckin' guy. I love him.


=''X-Men''

= Donner became the executive producer for the 2000
Marvel Comics Marvel Comics is the brand name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, a publisher of American comic books and related media. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company The Walt D ...
film ''
X-Men The X-Men are a fictional team of superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character Stock (also capital stock) is all of the shares into which ownership of a corporation is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary In Am ...
'', then also an executive producer for the 2009 ''X-Men'' prequel, '' X-Men Origins: Wolverine''. In addition, Donner's wife has produced all of the films in the ''X-Men'' film series under their Donners' Company brand. On October 16, 2008, Donner and Lauren Shuler Donner received stars in a double ceremony on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a historic landmark which consists of more than 2,700 five-pointed terrazzo Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of chips of mar ...

Hollywood Walk of Fame
for their achievements in motion pictures, located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.


= Unrealized projects

= Donner was the first choice to direct the "unofficial"
James Bond The ''James Bond'' series focuses on a fictional British Secret Service The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain ...
film ''
Never Say Never Again ''Never Say Never Again'' is a 1983 spy film directed by Irvin Kershner Irvin Kershner (born Isadore Kershner; April 29, 1923November 27, 2010) was an American director, actor, and producer of film and television. He gained notice early in ...
'', but turned it down after he decided he disliked
Lorenzo Semple Jr Lorenzo Elliott Semple III (March 27, 1923March 28, 2014) was an United States, American screenwriter and sometime playwright, best known for his work on the Camp (style), campy television series ''Batman (TV series), Batman'', and received writin ...
's script. He would have served as director of ''
Jurassic Park ''Jurassic Park'', later also referred to as ''Jurassic World'', is an American science fiction media franchise centered on a disastrous attempt to create a theme park of De-extinction#Cloning, cloned dinosaurs. It began in 1990 when Unive ...
'' had Columbia/TriStar won the bidding war for the screen rights against other studios. Donner was also considered as director for ''
The Lost Boys ''The Lost Boys'' is a 1987 American supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the Scientific law, laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entity, non-physical entities ...
'', ''
The Last Boy Scout ''The Last Boy Scout'' is a 1991 American buddy action film, action comedy directed by Tony Scott, starring Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, Chelsea Field, Noble Willingham, Taylor Negron and Danielle Harris. The film was released in the United States ...
'', '' Memoirs of an Invisible Man'', ''
Dave Dave may refer to: Film, television, and theater * ''Dave'' (film), a 1993 film starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver * ''Dave'' (musical), a 2018 stage musical adaptation of the film * Dave (TV channel) Dave is a British free-to-air F ...
'', '' Forever Young'', and ''
The Sandlot ''The Sandlot'' (released in some countries as ''The Sandlot Kids'') is a 1993 American sports film, sports comedy film co-written, directed, and narrated by David Mickey Evans. It tells the story of a group of young baseball players during the sum ...
''. In 2001, Donner claimed he planned to direct a sequel to ''
The Goonies ''The Goonies'' is a 1985 American adventure comedy film co-produced and directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by Chris Columbus (filmmaker), Chris Columbus, based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. In the film, kids who l ...
'' after ''
Timeline A timeline is a display of a list of events in Chronology, chronological order. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with calendar date, dates paralleling it, and usually contemporaneous events. Timelines can use any ...
'', and he planned to direct the fifth and final ''Lethal Weapon'' film before his death in 2021.


Books

* ''
Action Comics ''Action Comics'' is an American comic book/magazine A magazine is a periodical literature, periodical publication which is printing, printed in Coated paper, gloss-coated and Paint sheen, matte paper. Magazines are generally published on ...
'' (co-writer with
Geoff Johns Geoffrey Johns (born January 25, 1973) is an American comic book writer A script is a document describing the narrative and dialogue of a comic book in detail. It is the comic book equivalent of a Television, television program teleplay or a fi ...

Geoff Johns
) * '' Last Son and Escape from Bizarro World'' (2009) * ''You're the Director... You Figure It Out: The Life and Films of Richard Donner'' (2010)


Comic books

One of Donner's assistants in the late 1990s was comic book writer
Geoff Johns Geoffrey Johns (born January 25, 1973) is an American comic book writer A script is a document describing the narrative and dialogue of a comic book in detail. It is the comic book equivalent of a Television, television program teleplay or a fi ...

Geoff Johns
. In October 2006, Donner, Johns, and artist
Adam Kubert Adam Kubert (; born 1959) is an American comics artist known for his work for publishers such as Marvel Comics and DC Comics, including work on ''Action Comics'', ''Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine'', ''The Incredible Hulk (comic book), The Incr ...

Adam Kubert
became the new creative team on ''
Action Comics ''Action Comics'' is an American comic book/magazine A magazine is a periodical literature, periodical publication which is printing, printed in Coated paper, gloss-coated and Paint sheen, matte paper. Magazines are generally published on ...
'', the publisher's most time honored publication and one of
DC Comics DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of DC Entertainment DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of #DC Entertainment, DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Warner Bros. ...
' two main ''Superman'' titles. Together, Johns and Donner collaborated on the stories '' Last Son'' and ''Escape from Bizarro World'', both of which have been released in collected book form. Donner and Johns also co-wrote a story for '' Action Comics #1000'', released in April 2018.


Biography

In 2010, Donner's authorized biography titled ''You're the Director... You Figure It Out: The Life and Films of Richard Donner'' by James Christie was published by BearManor Media. The book features a foreword by Mel Gibson. ''Script Magazine'' described the book as an "engaging portrait of a warm-hearted (if occasionally gruff) man who can justly be considered the modern equivalent of
Victor Fleming Victor Lonzo Fleming (February 23, 1889 – January 6, 1949) was an American film director, cinematographer, and producer. His most popular films were ''Gone with the Wind (film), Gone with the Wind'', for which he won an Academy Award for Best ...
and
Michael Curtiz Michael Curtiz ( ; born Manó Kertész Kaminer; December 24, 1886 April 10, 1962) was a Hungarian-born American film director, recognized as one of the most prolific directors in history. He directed classic films from the silent era and nume ...
– a highly talented, professional director of motion pictures who has thrived in the studio system and made some pretty good pictures to boot." The
Directors Guild of America The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is an entertainment guild A guild is an association of artisan Wood carver in Bali An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objec ...
called the book "a compelling study of an ebullient, ballsy risk-taker who was a director even before he was aware of it" that "ably captures Donner's joy in doing a job he loves."


Personal life and death

Donner married film producer Lauren Shuler (born 1949) on November 27, 1986. The two merged their respective production companies to create Shuler-Donner Productions (now The Donners' Company) the same year. Donner and Shuler remained together until the former's death. Donner was the cousin of actor
Steve Kahan Steve Kahan (born 1939) is a retired American character actor who has appeared in many films, most prominently those of Richard Donner, his cousin. His best-known film role is in the ''Lethal Weapon (franchise), Lethal Weapon'' film franchise as Ca ...
, who played a policeman tracking Otis in ''Superman: The Movie'', and played Captain Ed Murphy in the ''Lethal Weapon'' film franchise. Donner also cast Kahan in some of his other films. Donner died on July 5, 2021, at his
West Hollywood, California West Hollywood is a city in Los Angeles County, California Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, and sometimes abbreviated as L.A. County, is the most populous county in the United States and in the U.S. state of Calif ...
home, at the age of 91. The cause of death was cardiopulmonary failure with
atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis is a disease in which the wall of the artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system that transport blood throughout the human body. These vessels tr ...

atherosclerosis
as an underlying cause.


Filmography


Film

Executive producer * '' Omen III: The Final Conflict'' (1981) * ''
The Lost Boys ''The Lost Boys'' is a 1987 American supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the Scientific law, laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entity, non-physical entities ...
'' (1987) * ''
Delirious Delirious may refer to: * A state of delirium Delirium, also known as acute confusional state, is the organically caused decline from a previous baseline mental functioning that develops over a short period of time, typically hours to days. Deli ...
'' (1991) * ''
Free Willy ''Free Willy'' is a 1993 American family film, family Drama (film and television), drama film, directed by Simon Wincer, produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Jennie Lew Tugend, written by Keith A. Walker and Corey Blechman from a story by Walker an ...
'' (1993) * '' Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home'' (1995) * '' Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight'' (1995) * '' Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood'' (1996) * '' Free Willy 3: The Rescue'' (1997) * ''
Any Given Sunday ''Any Given Sunday'' is a 1999 American Sports film, sports Drama (film and television), drama film directed by Oliver Stone depicting a fictional professional American football team. The film features an ensemble cast, including Al Pacino, Camero ...
'' (1999) * ''
X-Men The X-Men are a fictional team of superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character Stock (also capital stock) is all of the shares into which ownership of a corporation is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary In Am ...
'' (2000) * '' X-Men Origins: Wolverine'' (2009)


Television


Awards and nominations


References


External links

*
Archive of American Television interview, 2006
* {{DEFAULTSORT:Donner, Richard 1930 births 2021 deaths American comics writers Film producers from New York (state) American Jews American television directors Film directors from New York City Male television writers Action film directors Horror film directors American film producers American television producers Television producers from New York City Superman Superman (1978 film series) Lethal Weapon (franchise) The Omen (franchise)