Legendary Producer Robert Evans dies at age 89
It is with great sadness that ComingSoon.net (via Deadline) must report that legendary movie producer Robert Evans has passed away at age 89. He was best known for making such classics as Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather and Chinatown while production chief at Paramount Pictures in the 60’s and 70’s. Evans had a presence and offices on the Paramount lot until July of this year.
Evans’ start in the business goes all the way back to to the early 50’s when he took several major roles as an actor, including a prescient role as MGM studio chief Irving Thalberg in Man of a Thousand Faces and as bullfighter Pedro Romero in the adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
He got his start as a producer by purchasing the movie rights to The Detective to star Frank Sinatra. Gulf+Western’s Charles Bluhdorn hired Evans as head of production as part of a major shakeup at Paramount Pictures, which yielded such major hits as Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Rosemary’s Baby, The Italian Job, True Grit, Love Story, Harold and Maude, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Serpico, The Conversation, Chinatown and The Great Gatsby.
Once he struck out on his own as an independent producer he had another streak of hits, including Marathon Man, Popeye and Urban Cowboy. Unfortunately, a string of bad luck plagued him in the 80’s, including a cocaine conviction and an unfortunate association with the murder of financier Roy Radin on the 1984 bomb The Cotton Club (soon to get a Francis Ford Coppola director’s cut reissue). 1990’s Chinatown sequel The Two Jakes also disappointed.
His output through Paramount in the 90’s proved lackluster with Sliver, Jade, The Phantom, The Saint and The Out-of-Towners. However, his final film as a producer, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, was a box office success.
Evans flashy, larger-than-life showbiz personality was a frequent source of parody, including Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog, Martin Landau on Entourage, Bill Hader on Documentary Now! and Bob Odenkirk’s portrayal of Evans as God on Mr. Show…
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