Robert Evans (born June 29, 1930) is an American film producer and
former studio executive, best known for his work on Rosemary's Baby,
The Godfather and Chinatown.
Evans began his career in a successful business venture with his
brother, selling women's apparel. In 1956, while on a business trip,
he was by chance spotted by actress Norma Shearer, who thought he
would be right to play the role of her late husband Irving Thalberg
(appropriately, another film mogul) in Man of a Thousand Faces. Thus
he began a brief film acting career. In 1962, Evans decided to go into
film producing instead, using his accumulated wealth from the clothing
business, and began a meteoric rise in the industry; he was installed
as the head of
Paramount Pictures in 1967. While there, he improved
the ailing Paramount's fortunes through a string of commercially and
critically acclaimed films. In 1974 he stepped down in order to
produce films on his own.
In 1980 Evans' career, and life, took a downturn after he pleaded
guilty to cocaine trafficking; over the next 12 years, he produced
only two films, both financial flops: The
Cotton Club and the
Chinatown sequel The Two Jakes. In 1993 he began to produce films
on a more regular basis, with a mixed track record that included both
flops (such as Jade in 1995) and hits (such as How to Lose a Guy in 10
Days in 2003, his most recent film).
1 Early life and acting career
2 Career as producer
3 Personal life
3.1 Cocaine trafficking
Cotton Club murder
4 Evans as a character in film and theater
5.1 As Head of Production at Paramount
5.2 As Producer
8 External links
Early life and acting career
Evans was born Robert J. Shapera in New York City, New York, the son
of Florence, a housewife who came from a wealthy family, and Archie
Shapera, a dentist in Harlem. He has described both of his parents
as "second-generation Jews." He grew up on New York City's Upper
West Side during the 1930s, where he was better off than most people
living during the Great Depression. In his early years, he did
promotional work for Evan-Picone, a fashion company founded by his
brother Charles, in addition to doing voice work on radio shows.
He was spotted by actress
Norma Shearer next to the pool at The
Beverly Hills Hotel
Beverly Hills Hotel on Election Day, 1956. She successfully touted him
for the role of her late husband
Irving Thalberg in Man of a Thousand
Faces. The same year, Evans also caught the eye of Darryl F. Zanuck,
who cast him as Pedro Romero in the 1957 film adaptation of Ernest
Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, against the wishes of co-star Ava
Gardner and Hemingway himself. In 1959, he appeared in Twentieth
Century Fox's production of The Best of Everything with Hope Lange,
Diane Baker and Joan Crawford.
Career as producer
Dissatisfied with his own acting talent, he was determined to become a
producer. He got his start as head of production at Paramount by
purchasing the rights to a 1966 novel titled The Detective which Evans
made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra, Lee Remick, Jack Klugman,
Robert Duvall and Jacqueline Bisset, in 1968. Peter Bart, a writer for
The New York Times, wrote an article about Evans’ aggressive
production style. This got Evans noticed by Charles Bluhdorn, who was
head of the
Gulf+Western conglomerate, and hired Evans as part of a
Paramount Pictures (which included Bart, whom Evans would
recruit as a Paramount executive).
When Evans took over as head of production for Paramount, the
floundering studio was the ninth largest. Despite his inexperience,
Evans was able to turn the studio around. He made Paramount the most
successful studio in Hollywood and transformed it into a very
profitable enterprise for Gulf+Western. During his tenure at
Paramount, the studio turned out films such as Barefoot in the Park,
The Odd Couple, Rosemary's Baby, The Italian Job, True Grit, Love
Story, Harold and Maude, The Godfather,
The Godfather Part II,
Serpico, Save the Tiger, The Conversation, Chinatown, The Great
Gatsby, and many others.
Dissatisfied with his financial compensation and desiring to produce
films under his own banner, Evans struck a deal with Paramount that
enabled him to stay on as studio head while also working as an
independent producer. Other producers at Paramount felt this gave
Evans an unfair advantage. After the huge critical and commercial
success of the Evans-produced Chinatown, he stepped down as production
chief, which enabled him to produce films on his own. From 1976 to
1980, working as an independent producer, he continued his streak of
successful films with Marathon Man, Black Sunday, Popeye and Urban
Cowboy. After 1980, his film output became both more infrequent and
less critically acclaimed. He produced only two films over the next
twelve years: The
Cotton Club and The Two Jakes. From 1993 to 2003 he
produced the films Sliver, Jade, The Phantom, The Saint, and How to
Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
Evans continues to produce, although the last film that he produced
was released in 2003. He produced and provided the voice for his
eponymous character in the 2003 animated series Kid Notorious. In 2004
Evans hosted a
Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio show, In Bed with Robert Evans.
In 2009, Evans was in talks to produce a film about auto executive
John DeLorean, as well as an
HBO miniseries titled The Devil and
Sidney Korshak. Neither project has yet come to fruition.
Evans has been married seven times but all of his marriages have
lasted three years or less. His first was to Sharon Hugueny
(1961–1962). After his first divorce came Camilla Sparv
Ali MacGraw (1969–1973), Phyllis George
Catherine Oxenberg (1998), Leslie Ann Woodward
(2002–2004), and Victoria White (2005–2006). Evans' marriage to
Oxenberg was annulled after nine days. He married his seventh wife,
Victoria White O'Gara (widow of Lord Gordon White), while in Mexico,
on August 2005 shortly after his 75th birthday. She filed for divorce
on June 16, 2006, citing irreconcilable differences. In the film
adaptation of the autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture, only Ali
MacGraw is discussed, and their relationship is discussed at length.
Evans has one son, Josh Evans, also a producer, from his marriage to
MacGraw, and one grandson, Jackson, born in 2010 to Josh Evans and
daughter-in-law Roxy Saint, a singer. Evans had one brother,
Charles Evans, a New York real estate developer and film producer
Monkey Shines 1988), and has one sister, Alice Shure a
New York independent producer. Evans is the uncle to documentary
producer Charles Evans, Jr.,
Al Jazeera America
Al Jazeera America Political Corrspondent
Michael Shure and Tony Shure founder of Chop't Salad.
Joe Eszterhas repeatedly describes his friend, Evans, as "the devil"
in his book, Hollywood Animal, and says that "all lies ever told
Robert Evans are true." His autobiography also goes
into detail about a cocaine addiction that plagued Evans in the 1980s.
Eszterhas's book The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as
God includes an anecdote about Evans showing his appreciation for one
of Eszterhas's scripts by sending him a woman with a "congratulatory
note" inside her vagina.
Evans was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 1980. He entered a
guilty plea to a misdemeanor in federal court after being arrested
after engineering a large cocaine buy with his brother Charles. As
part of his plea bargain, he filmed an anti-drug TV commercial. The
alleged drug dealing, which Evans continues to deny (the misdemeanor
was later wiped from his record), came out of his own involvement with
the drug. He told the
Philadelphia Inquirer in a 1994 interview, "Bob
'Cocaine' Evans is how I'll be known to my grave". He claimed that he
should never have been convicted of federal selling and distribution
charges, as he was only a user.
Cotton Club murder
Evans was introduced to the theatrical impresario Roy Radin, a
producer of traveling musical and comedy revues, by cocaine dealer
Karen Greenberger (aka Lanie Jacobs). Radin was trying to break
into the film industry with a movie about the legendary New York
nightclub, the Cotton Club. Radin's financial situation was reportedly
quite challenged due both to neglecting his live tours and reported
drug-related situations. The deal arranged on the film The Cotton Club
mandated that Evans and Radin establish a production company in which
each would own 45% of the film with the remaining 10% split between
two other parties. Radin offered Greenberger (aka Jacobs) a
$50,000 finder's fee for her efforts, which she found
Cotton Club film financing was being arranged, the 33-year-old
Radin was murdered in 1983. Contract killer William Mentzer was among
four people sentenced for shooting Radin multiple times in the head
and using dynamite to make identification by authorities more
challenging. At the trial, Karen Greenberger was convicted of
second-degree murder and kidnapping. Her involvement was said to be
over a fear of being cut out of a producer's role and potential
profiting in the
Cotton Club movie. As a result, the murder court case
of Radin was dubbed the "Cotton Club" murder trial.
Under the advice of his attorney Robert Shapiro, Evans refused to
testify during a May 1989 preliminary hearing, invoking the Fifth
Amendment to avoid incriminating himself. When he took the stand
during the hearing and was asked if he knew Roy Radin, Evans invoked
the fifth. The police reports that had been submitted to obtain search
warrants indicated at least two witnesses said Evans was involved in
the Radin murder.
Greenberger testified during her 1991 trial that Evans was not
involved in the murder. She also claimed during her trial that she had
been Evans' lover.
On May 6, 1998, during a dinner party in honor of director Wes Craven,
Evans suffered a stroke while giving a toast, and was rushed to nearby
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Evans flatlined in the ambulance, but was
resuscitated. Suffering a series of three strokes in quick succession,
he was left paralyzed on his right side and completely unable to
speak. During his hospital stay, he was encouraged by media mogul
and friend Sumner Redstone, who stayed at his bedside, to work on his
speech and recovery. A few days after Evans' stroke, Frank Sinatra
died from a heart attack in one of the adjoining rooms at Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center. Witnessing his body being taken away, Evans said it
was an event that furthered his desire to recover.
Evans eventually regained his ability to talk and returned to
producing. As of 2013, he relies on a cane for shorter walks and
has limited mobility.
Evans as a character in film and theater
Actors have admitted imitating Evans' distinctive mannerisms.
Orson Welles' unfinished final film, The Other Side of the Wind
(1970–6), a scathing satire on 1970s Hollywood, has a young studio
boss "Max David" played by Geoffrey Land, who Welles admitted was a
spoof of Evans.
In the 1997 movie Wag the Dog, a
Washington, D.C. spin doctor
distracts the electorate from a U.S. presidential sex scandal by
hiring a Hollywood producer played by Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman's
character was based directly upon Robert Evans. Hoffman emulated
Evans' work habits, mannerisms, quirks, clothing style, hairstyle, and
his large square-framed eyeglasses. The real Evans is said to have
declared, "I'm magnificent in this film!"
Bob Ryan, a recurring character in the
HBO series Entourage is said to
be based on Evans. The character, portrayed by Martin Landau, was
a successful movie producer in the 1970s who now chafes at no longer
being considered a major Hollywood player. While Evans reportedly
declined an offer to play the part himself, he did agree to allow his
home to be used in the show as Bob Ryan's home.
Evans served as the inspiration for a
Mr. Show sketch, in which Bob
Odenkirk portrays God recording his memoirs, dressed as and speaking
like Evans. Odenkirk also attributes Evans as his primary influence on
his portrayal of lawyer
Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad.
Evans plays himself in the movie An Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood
He likewise voices a fictionalised caricature of himself in the
animated series, Kid Notorious, alongside his real-life butler, Alan
"English" Selka, and next-door neighbor, former
Guns N' Roses
Guns N' Roses lead
guitarist Saul "Slash" Hudson.
Evans also appears in the 2005
Bruce Campbell novel Make Love! The
Bruce Campbell Way, with Bruce impersonating him to infiltrate the
Paramount Studios lot.
Smuggler Films acquired the stage rights to Evans' memoirs,
The Kid Stays in the Picture
The Kid Stays in the Picture and its sequel, The Fat Lady Sang (which
was eventually published in 2013). The play was to be written by Jon
Robin Baitz. No further information has been released on the
Bill Hader played a character inspired by Evans in the two-part season
two finale of
Documentary Now! that parodies The Kid Stays in the
As Head of Production at Paramount
The President's Analyst
The President's Analyst (1967)
Barefoot in the Park (1967)
The Odd Couple (1968)
The Detective (1968)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
The Italian Job
The Italian Job (1969)
True Grit (1969)
The Confession (1970)
Love Story (1970)
A New Leaf (1971)
Plaza Suite (1971)
Harold and Maude
Harold and Maude (1971)
The Godfather (1972)
Save the Tiger
Save the Tiger (1973)
The Great Gatsby (1974)
The Conversation (1974)
Marathon Man (1976)
Black Sunday (1977)
Urban Cowboy (1980)
Cotton Club (1984)
The Two Jakes
The Two Jakes (1990)
The Phantom (1996)
The Saint (1997)
The Out-of-Towners (1999)
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Kid Notorious (2003, TV series)
Lydia Bailey (1952)
Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)
The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises (1957)
The Fiend Who Walked the West
The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958)
The Best of Everything (1959)
Cannes Man (1996)
Kid Notorious (2003, TV series)
The Girl from Nagasaki (2013)
The Kid Stays in the Picture
The Kid Stays in the Picture (Hyperion Books, 1994) – autobiography,
also released as a 1994 audiobook read by Evans; adapted as a 2002
The Fat Lady Sang (It Books, 2013) –
Library of Congress
Library of Congress data
remains incomplete April 2014 (publication date November 22, 2013)
^ a b "Divorce No. 7 for Producer Robert Evans". PEOPLE.com.
^ Jerome, Jim (August 12, 2002). "The Real Deal". People.
Robert Evans Biography ((?)-)".
^ a b Evans, Robert (1994). The Kid Stays in the Picture. Hyperion.
p. 13. ISBN 978-0786860593.
Robert Evans biopic studies producer fated to the screen".
^ Fleming, Michael (April 1, 2009). "
HBO gets to work on 'Korshak'".
^ a b Archerd, Army. "Evans and Oxenberg saying 'I do.'" Variety, July
1998. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
^ Archerd, Army. "Evans and Oxenberg untie knot." Variety, July 1998.
Retrieved September 9, 2008.
^ Josh Evans - Biography - IMDb
^ "The Nerve Interview: Joe Eszterhas". Nerve.com. 2006-09-15.
^ Rea, Steven (8 September 1994). "A Mogul's Moguls Life's Been A
Bumpy Ride For Producer Robert Evans, Who Went, In His Words, From
"Legend To Leper"; It's All In His New Book, Even The Part About His
Getting In Touch With God". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 8
^ "Jury Finds Four Guilty in 'Cotton Club' Murder Case." Sun-Sentinel,
23 July 1991.
^ Kasindorf, Jeanie. "The
Cotton Club Murder". New York magazine, 24
July 1989, p. 27.
^ Daly, Michael. "The Making of Hollywood: A True Tale of Hollywood".
New York Magazine, 7 May 1984, p. 47.
^ "'Cotton Club' Defendant Says Evans Not Involved : Trial". Los
Angeles Times, 27 April 1991.
^ "'Cotton Club' Jury Convicts 4 of Murder". latimes.
^ "Producer Evans Refuses to Testify". Associated Press, 13 May 1989
^ McDougal, Dennis. "Producer
Robert Evans Invokes 5th at Hearing in
Murder Case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
^ "'Cotton Club' Defendant Says Evans Not Involved : Trial: The
film producer had no role in Roy Radin's murder, woman testifies; She
professes innocence and says Radin planned to kill her". Los Angeles
Times. 27 April 1991. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
^ a b "A Honcho in Winter With More Tales to Tell". The New York
Times. 26 December 2013.
^ "A Hollywood Player Inspires a Broadway Play". The New York Times.
11 February 2010.
^ Charles Champlin, 'Faltaff in King Hollywood's Court: An Interview
Concerning "The Other Side of the Wind"', in Ronald Gottesman (ed.),
Focus on Orson Welles (Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey,
^ "Double Takes". Newsweek. The Washington Post Company. 1998-03-02.
Retrieved 2008-10-17. [dead link]
^ WENN. "
Robert Evans Fumes Over 'Entourage' Character".
^ "No Kid, but
Robert Evans Still Stays in the Picture". The New York
Times. 3 September 2006.
^ "Television News, Reviews and TV Show Recaps - HuffPost TV". The
^ Cieply, Michael (February 11, 2010). "A Hollywood Player Inspires a
Broadway Play". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
^ "The fat lady sang".
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved
Robert Evans on IMDb
Robert Evans web show on JumpBoxTV
Mills, James (March 7, 1969). "Why should he have it". Life: 62–68,
70–72, 73–74, 76. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
Robert Evans: The Official Legacy Fan Site
Robert Evans at
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Authorities, with 9 catalog
Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama
The Song of Bernadette (1943)
Going My Way
Going My Way (1944)
The Lost Weekend (1945)
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
Johnny Belinda / The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
All the King's Men (1949)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront (1954)
East of Eden (1955)
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Defiant Ones (1958)
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
The Cardinal (1963)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
The Lion in Winter (1968)
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
Love Story (1970)
The French Connection (1971)
The Godfather (1972)
The Exorcist (1973)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
The Turning Point (1977)
Midnight Express (1978)
Kramer vs. Kramer
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Ordinary People (1980)
On Golden Pond (1981)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Terms of Endearment
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Out of Africa (1985)
The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor (1987)
Rain Man (1988)
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Dances with Wolves
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Schindler's List (1993)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
The English Patient (1996)
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
American Beauty (1999)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The Hours (2002)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The Aviator (2004)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
The Social Network
The Social Network (2010)
The Descendants (2011)
12 Years a Slave (2013)
The Revenant (2015)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
ISNI: 0000 0000 8161 1516
BNF: cb125017652 (data)