UNITED STATES: Richard Donner, the Hollywood director whose major hits included the superhero blockbuster ‘Superman’, The Goonies, and the American drama franchise ‘Lethal Weapon’ passed away on Monday, his wife, the film producer Lauren Shuler Donner, told Deadline Hollywood. Donner was 91.
About Donner, “gifted across so many genres,” said Steven Spielberg, producer of The Goonies. “Being in his circle was akin to hanging out with your favourite coach, smartest professor, fiercest motivator, most endearing friend, staunchest ally, and – of course – the greatest Goonie of all,” Spielberg added.
Born in the Bronx, New York, Donner started his career in television in the early 1960s, with credits including anthology series The Twilight Zone and spy thriller The Man From Uncle. But it was only in the mid-1970s when he made his mark in Hollywood, particularly with his work on 1978’s Superman starring Christopher Reeve, often regarded as the first modern superhero film. Donner beautifully crafted his love of the character into the film, even if it demanded repeatedly facing off with producers over the need for special effects that would convince the audience that a superhero could really fly. In an undertone, with the movie, Donner gave Reeve the title of “Superman” that followed him like a lucky charm for the rest of his life.
In 1985, he directed and produced the kids’ adventure classic “The Goonies” and “Ladyhawke,” which would introduce him to his future wife, Lauren Shuler Donner. The two married the following year. In 1993, the couple founded The Donners Company, which produced hits like “The Wolverine”, “Deadpool” and the “X-Men” franchise.
On one of the occasions, Shuler Donner said, “If you look at Dick’s
(Donner) movies, Dick is fun, larger than life, loud, strong, with a big mushy heart. His confidence, his fearlessness, his humor are what make people adore him and has wrapped around me like a protective cloak.”
“Donner was magnanimous of heart and soul, which he liberally gave to all who knew him,” actor Mel Gibson, who starred in Donner’s Lethal Weapon and Conspiracy Theory, told Variety. “If we piled up all the good deeds he did, it would stretch to some uncharted place in the firmament. I will sorely miss him, with all his mischievous wit and wisdom,” he said.
Though a few of Donner’s films generated Oscar nominations, he was never nominated. He however got his chance to thank the academy — and his many friends and colleagues — at the 2017 film tribute.
“This industry is my friend, and it’s been the greatest gift in the world to me,” Donner said. “You guys are all my Oscar.”