R.I.P to legendary movie producer Richard Zanuck, who died at 77 years old. Click below for more information.
Richard D. Zanuck, the once-spurned son of the legendary Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck who carved out his own career as a frequently honored producer, running up more than $2 billion in grosses and, by producing â€œDriving Miss Daisyâ€ in 1989, becoming the only son to duplicate a fatherâ€™s best-picture Oscar, died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 77.
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Zade Rosenthal/Columbia Pictures
Richard D. Zanuck, left, and Albert Finney on the set of â€œBig Fish,â€ one of six films directed by Tim Burton that he produced.
The cause was a heart attack, Jeff Sanderson, his publicist, said.
Richard Zanuckâ€™s successes rivaled those of his father, who co-founded 20th Century Fox, won three best picture Academy Awards and later fired his son in a studio shake-up. The younger Mr. Zanuck produced or helped produce movies like Steven Spielbergâ€™s first feature film, â€œThe Sugarland Express,â€ in 1974 and the directorâ€™s first blockbuster, â€œJaws,â€ the next year.
In a statement, Mr. Spielberg said Mr. Zanuck â€œtaught me everything I know about producing.â€
David Brown, an urbane New Yorker with whom Mr. Zanuck produced the two Spielberg films, also worked with him in producing â€œThe Stingâ€ in 1973. Reuniting Paul Newman, Robert Redford and the director George Roy Hill after their 1969 box office hit â€œButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,â€ â€œThe Stingâ€ won the best movie Oscar, though Mr. Zanuck and Mr. Brown (the husband of the Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown) were not listed as its producers.
Mr. Zanuck produced six movies directed by Tim Burton, including this yearâ€™s â€œDark Shadows,â€ starring Johnny Depp as a heartsick vampire. They also collaborated on â€œCharlie and the Chocolate Factoryâ€ (2005), Mr. Burtonâ€™s reimagining of â€œPlanet of the Apesâ€ (2001), and â€œAlice in Wonderlandâ€ (2010). â€œAliceâ€ has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
As a boy Mr. Zanuck had the run of 20th Century Fox, where his father reigned as one of the most powerful Hollywood moguls. Richard attended his first Academy Awards ceremony at age 7.
In high school and college, he worked in a different department at Fox every summer. In 1962, when Mr. Zanuck was still in his 20s, his father defied charges of nepotism and made him Foxâ€™s production chief. Under Richard, the studio won 159 Oscar nominations, and three movies â€” â€œThe Sound of Music,â€ â€œPattonâ€ and â€œThe French Connectionâ€ â€” were named best picture.
Darryl Zanuck, a cigar-chomping Midwesterner who never made it to high school and waved a polo mallet to reinforce a conversational point, fired his son in 1970 after a studio shake-up. The father was trying to save his own job, unsuccessfully. Richard Zanuckâ€™s resentment lasted almost until his fatherâ€™s death, in 1979.
â€œIt was different from the usual father-son relationship,â€ Mr. Zanuck told The New York Times in 2003. â€œBut I was able to patch everything up before my father died.â€
Richard â€” soft-spoken, Stanford-educated and comfortable on a California beach â€” went on to his productive collaboration with Mr. Brown after a brief stop at Warner Brothers.
Richard Darryl Zanuck was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 1934. His mother was the silent film star Virginia Fox. As a youngster, Richard was made to sell copies of The Saturday Evening Post to teach him the value of hard work. â€œOf course,â€ he told The Los Angeles Times in 2010, â€œmy dad did have a chauffeur take me to pick up the papers.â€
To show he cared about his son, Darryl Zanuck bused studio executives to Richardâ€™s ballgames so that they could cheer on his son, as if they were extras in a sports movie. Personalities like Orson Welles were regular visitors to the Zanuck home.
Richard, who excelled in sports in high school and continued running five miles a day into his 70s, served in the Army as a lieutenant after his graduation from Stanford. His father, meanwhile, had been fired by Fox in 1956 and moved to Paris to become an independent producer. The elder Zanuck, who had a wide reputation for womanizing, had affairs with three French actresses in succession but failed to advance their careers, as he had suggested he might.
Darryl Zanuck arranged for his son to produce his first film, the murder mystery â€œCompulsionâ€ (1959), at age 24. It won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the ensemble work of Welles, Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman.
In 1962, Fox, still struggling, rehired Darryl Zanuck as president. But because he did not want to abandon his romantic interests in Paris, he asked his son to give him a list of possible candidates to run the West Coast studio. Richard Zanuck presented him with a piece of paper with one word on it, â€œMe.â€
His father went for it. â€œI have always considered that one of the gutsiest moves,â€ Mr. Zanuck said of his fatherâ€™s decision. The son kept his father up-to-date by trans-Atlantic telegram.
Mr. Zanuck moved to Warner Brothers to be executive vice president and there collaborated with Mr. Brown on such box office hits as â€œThe Exorcistâ€ and â€œBlazing Saddles.â€ In 1971, the two men formed the Zanuck/Brown Company.
After they split up in 1988, Mr. Zanuck started the Zanuck Company. That year it made â€œDriving Miss Daisy,â€ which was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four, including best picture. It cost $5 million to make and grossed more than $100 million.
Mr. Zanuckâ€™s first two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Lili Fini Zanuck, with whom he produced the 2000 Oscar ceremony; his sons Harrison and Dean, who have produced movies; and nine grandchildren.
Mr. Zanuck was a hands-on producer, going to the set every day and watching the dayâ€™s work every night. Mr. Spielberg recalled that while filming â€œJawsâ€ in 1974, he and Mr. Zanuck were in a boat off Marthaâ€™s Vineyard in Massachusetts as they watched the movieâ€™s mechanical shark sink to the bottom of the sea. As Mr. Spielberg recalled, â€œDick turned to me and smiledâ€ and said, â€˜Gee, I hope thatâ€™s not a sign.â€™ â€