Richard Donner, Director of Superman, Lethal Weapon, and The Goonies, Dies at 91

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Richard Donner, the director of such films as the original Superman film starring Christopher Reeve, Lethal Weapon, and The Goonies, has died at the age of 91.

As reported by Variety, Donner’s production company confirmed the news of his death on Monday, July 5, although no cause was been disclosed.

Image Credit: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

His first directing credit on IMDB is listed as the episode of Zane Grey Theatre called “So Young the Savage Land.” One of his breakout hits was 1976’s The Omen, and that was followed up two years later with Superman.

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He left Superman II after a litigious dispute with the film’s producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Richard Lester took over directing duties, but Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released in 2006, the same day as Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns debuted on home video.

He would continue on to direct Lethal Weapon 1-4, and his final directing credit was 2006’s 16 Blocks starring Bruce Willis.

Donner did much more than just direct, as he started a production company with his wife Lauren Shuler Donner that would produce X-Men movies like 2000’s X-Men and the prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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While he may not have directed a film in some time, his influence on those creating some of the biggest movies in the world can’t be overstated. One of the interns at his production company was Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. Had Donner chosen a different intern, the MCU as we know it may not have ever happened.

In a statement, Feige shared a few words that expressed how much Donner meant to him.

“Richard Donner not only made me believe a man could fly, he made me believe that comic characters could be brought to life on the big screen with heart, humor, humanity, and verisimilitude,” Feige wrote. “Above all he taught me that it can and must be done with respect, caring and kindness to everyone in front of and behind the camera.

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“Dick and Lauren became mentors during my early career, and key supporters throughout the birth of the MCU. I owe my career to the way they took the time to nurture and teach a kid from New Jersey who didn’t know how to use a fax machine or make coffee very well. I always thought Dick was immortal. I still do. My thoughts are with Lauren and the entire family.”

Richard Donald Schwartzberg was born on April 24, 1939, in the Bronx. He attended Parker Junior College and went on to study at NYU where he majored in business and theater. He would begin his career as an actor, but ended up finding great success behind the camera.

Alongside the previously mentioned films, Donner also directed multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Perry Mason, Route 66, The Fugitive, The Six Million Dollar Man, Kojak, and much more. He even worked for Hanna-Barbera for a time, where he directed episodes of Danger Island.

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Richard Donner is survived by his wife Lauren Shuler Donner, who he married in 1986.


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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.https://variety.com/2021/film/news/richard-donner-dead-dies-superman-the-goonies-lethal-weapon-1235012025/

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