Oscar-Winning Director Jonathan Demme Dies at 73

Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme dies at 73

Indiewire reports that Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme died this morning in New York at the age of 73 after suffering from esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease.

Demme began his career in the mid-’70s working on a series of low-budget films for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, including Angels Hard as They Come, Caged Heat, and Crazy Mama. He quickly rose to be a studio favorite, directing Handle with Care for Paramount in 1977, Melvin and Howard for Universal in 1980, and Swing Shift for Warner Bros. in 1984.

It was also in the 1980s that Demme began to work in the field of documentaries, directing the concert film Stop Making Sense, which featured the Talking Heads performing. Demme would continue to live in the world of concert films throughout his career, directing three features about Neil Young as well as Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids and others.

In 1991, Demme was awarded his Best Directing Oscar for the feature adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs, which remains one of only three films to win all five major categories at the ceremony (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress). Following that, he directed Philidelphia with Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks, who won his first Academy Award for the role. He would later reunite with Washington for the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

Recently, Demme directed the films Rachel Getting Married, for which star Anne Hathaway was nominated for an Academy Award, and Ricki and the Flash in 2015.

The director also worked in television, helming episodes of Columbo, Saturday Night Live, The Killing, and an episode of FOX’s event series Shots Fired which is actually scheduled to air tonight on the network.

Demme is survived by his wife Joanne Howard and three children, Ramona, Brooklyn and Jos.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)