Robert Evans, the producer behind such classics as Chinatown and Urban Cowboy, has died at the age of 89. No details regarding Evans' passing have been revealed at this time. The news of the Hollywood icon's death was confirmed by his ex-wife Ali MacGraw in a statement. Here's what she had to say.
"Our son, Joshua, and I will miss Bob tremendously and we are so very proud of his enormous contribution to the film Industry. He will be remembered as a giant."
Born in June 1930 in New York as Robert J. Shapera, Robert Evans started life in the fashion buisness, partnering with his older brother to open the Evan-Picone. While on a trip to Los Angeles to open a new location, Evans was spotted by actress Norma Shearer, which led to him starring alongside James Cagney and Lon Chaney in 1957's Man of a Thousand Faces. Evans then began acting more steadily over the next few years, before getting more involved behind-the-scenes.
Eventually, at the age of 36, Robert Evans became the studio production chief at Paramount Pictures. At the time, the studio was on hard times, but Evans' tenure turned things around. Aside from classics like Chinatown that Evans produced directly, as head of the studio, he shepherded important projects such as Rosemary's Baby, The Odd Couple, Goodbye, Columbus, True Grit, The Italian Job, Harold and Maude and, perhaps most importantly, The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. Evans hand-picked director Francis Ford Coppola at Paramount to direct The Godfather, which many still consider to be the greatest movie ever made. Coppola had this to say in a statement following Evans' passing.
"I remember Bob Evans' charm, good looks, enthusiasm, style, and sense of humor. He had strong instincts as evidenced by the long list of great films in his career. When I worked with Bob, some of his helpful ideas included suggesting John Marley as Woltz and Sterling Hayden as the Police Captain, and his ultimate realization that 'The Godfather' could be 2 hours and 45 minutes in length; also, making a movie out of 'The Cotton Club,' casting Richard Gere and Gregory Hines, and bringing Milena Canonero, George Faison, Richard Sylbert, and many other talented people to work on the film. May the kid always stay in the picture."
Eventually, Robert Evans was demoted at Paramount during some restructuring. After several more years of producing, the prolific filmmaker had something of a fall from grace. His story was documented in the 1994 autobiography, The Kid Stays In the Picture, which later served as the title of a 2002 documentary about his life. Evans was candid about his struggles such as cocaine addiction and various complicated relationships in his personal life.
Robert Evans was married seven times. His final producing credit came in 2016 for the TV movie Urban Cowboy. He also voiced the lead character in the 2003 animated series Kid Notorious, which was loosely based on his life. Many in Hollywood took to Twitter to share their thoughts on Robert Evans' passing, with Christopher McQuarrie and Michael McKean amongst them. This news was previously reported by Vareity.