Very sad news has just come in as legendary filmmaker Richard Donner has reportedly died. The world-famous director-producer, best known for directing movies like Superman, The Goonies, and the Lethal Weapon series, was 91 years old at the time of his passing. As of now, a cause of death hasn't been revealed, nor is it clear exactly when the filmmaker passed. His death was confirmed through his production company, per Variety.
Donner was born Richard Donald Schwartzberg on April 24, 1930, in New York. Initially set on becoming an actor, Donner got his start directing commercials for Desilu in the 1950s. This led to directing classic television dramas like Wanted: Dead or Alive with Steve McQueen and The Rifleman with Chuck Connors. As a TV director, Donner wound up working on many other well-known shows from classic television like The Fugitive, Get Smart, The Wild Wild West, Gilligan's Island, Tales from the Crypt, and The Twilight Zone.
In 1961, Donner made his feature directorial debut with X-15, an aviation drama starring Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore. He later helmed Salt and Pepper with Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford followed by the cult classic horror flick The Omen in 1976. The latter helped to further establish Donner as a successful director, and he would direct the original Superman movie with Christopher Reeve that was released in 1978. He was controversially fired from Superman II during the sequel's production.
Donner is also widely known for helming the Lethal Weapon movie series, starting with the original installment in 1987. The filmmaker would return to the director's chair for all three subsequent installments in 1989, 1992, and 1998. In December, at the age of 90, Donner confirmed his plans to develop Lethal Weapon 5 with Danny Glover and Mel Gibson returning for one last adventure. He also said at the time that he intended for the sequel to be his final movie.
"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," Donner told The Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile, Donner's other work as a director includes the adventure comedy movie The Goonies, one of the most popular cult movies of all time. He has also directed movies like The Toy with Richard Pryor, Scrooged with Bill Murray, Radio Flyer with Elijah Wood, and Assassins with Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas. His final movie is the action thriller 16 Blocks with Bruce Willis and Mos Def that was released in 2006.
The legendary director also served as an executive producer on a variety of projects. For the small screen, he executive produced shows like Tales from the Crypt and its animated spinoff Tales from the Cryptkeeper. He also served as an EP for the Tales from the Crypt movies as well as the original Free Willy trilogy, Any Given Sunday, X-Men, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Donner's survivors include his wife, Shuler Donner, with whom he's been married since 1986. Our thoughts are with her along with everyone else who knew Donner now feeling the pain of his passing. The legacy he built will ensure that he is never forgotten. Rest in peace. This news comes to us from Variety.