Richard Donner, the director of beloved films like “Superman” and “The Goonies,” has died. He was 91.
The Bronx-born Donner died Monday, his wife Lauren Schuler Donner, who is also his business manager, confirmed to Deadline.
In addition to the Christopher Reeves “Superman” films, he also directed 1987’s “Lethal Weapon” starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, 1997’s “Conspiracy Theory” with Gibson and Julia Roberts, and 1985’s cult classic “Ladyhawke,” with Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick.
His “Lethal Weapon” leading man Gibson once said of Donner, “There’s true humility about the man; he refers to himself as a traffic cop, but he’s a f—ing genius.”
Donner was infamously cut from the Superman sequel after going millions over budget, Collider reported and replaced by Richard Lester mid-production. But over 25 years after the DC hero flick stunned audiences, “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” was released in 2006 as a re-edited director’s cut with lost Man of Steel footage.
After a long career helming classic television shows — “Route 66,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Gilligan’s Island, and “Perry Mason” to name just a few — Donner made his feature film directorial debut with the little-known 1968 Sammy Davis Jr. crime comedy “Salt & Pepper.”
Donner moved to the big screen full-time with the 1976 occult classics “The Omen” starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick.
“Richard Donner made the devil a child in ‘The Omen,’ invented the modern-day comic book movie with “Superman,” and reinvented the buddy cop movie with Lethal Weapon.’” writer-director Kevin Smith said in his Twitter homage. “I got to meet with him last year about a project. Guy was a natural-born storyteller. Thanks for all the flicks, Dick!”
Famed comic book writer Dan Slott also paid tribute: “Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN is the DNA, the fundamental building block, that all good superhero movies have been built from. It was the earnest leap of faith, the single bound, that made us all believe that a man could fly.”
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences paid tribute to the director-producer in 2017, Donner humbly said: “This industry is my friend. I love it. I never thought I’d say this, but I want to thank the Academy.”