Richard Donner, director of the 1978 Superman and its sequel Superman II, passed away on Monday according to Variety. There has yet to be a cause of death announced, he was 91 years of age.
His Early Life
Richard Donald Schwartzberg was born on April 24, 1930, in the Bronx to Hattie and Fred Schwartzberg. He had a sister by the name of Joan. As he made his way through life as a child, he ended up attending NYU where he would double major in business and theatre. Donner wanted to be in front of the camera, but little did he know that he would end up being one of the most consistent directors for decades to come.
Donner’s started his career mostly by being cast in small television roles until he was getting consistent work as a television director as he directed episodes for shows like Wanted: Dead or Alive, Route 66, and The Tall Man. Then he got his chance to direct his very first feature in 1961 by the name of X-1 which was a film that took place during the Cold War. Then, after directing more and more television shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Gilligan’s Island, he would finally land the directing job that made him one of the most prolific directors in history, Superman.
Superman was the first big comic book film to become huge, Donner was behind the movie that is responsible for everything comic book that we have today. In essence, Richard Donner is The Godfather of comic book movies and their subsequent television show spin-offs.
His success would not end with him directing Superman as he would go on to direct other notable films such as Superman II The Goonies, Lethal Weapon 1, 2, & 3, one of my personal favorites; Scrooged, and his final film as a director, 16 blocks.
Our condolences go out to Donner’s family.