GP Images/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Director Jonathan Demme, whose body of work included rock documentaries, quirky cult classics and Oscar-winning hits, has died. He was 73.
In a statement, Demme’s rep told ABC News that the director died early this morning in New York City, surrounded by his wife and their three children. He died from complications from esophageal cancer. There will be private family funeral. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Americans For Immigrant Justice in Miami, FL.
Like many future Oscar winners, Demme got his start working for B-movie king Roger Corman, directing Corman’s 1971 biker movie Angels Hard as They Come. That was followed by other B-movies, such as Caged Heat and Crazy Mama.
Demme went on to helm such quirky 1980s movies as Melvin and Howard, Married to the Mob and Something Wild, but was also behind the camera for the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert film and documentary Stop Making Sense. That led to Demme’s parallel career as a director of concert movies and documentaries, among them Swimming to Cambodia, three Neil Young concert movies and, most recently, 2016’s Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.
In the ’90s, Demme’s career really took off when he directed the Oscar-winning movies The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia. Silence of the Lambs was only the third film in history to win Oscars in all five top categories: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Adapted Screenplay.
Demme’s work since included the critically-acclaimed Anne Hathaway film Rachel Getting Married, and the 2015 Meryl Streep comedy Ricki and the Flash.
Demme recently completed a multi-media presentation for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which incorporates footage from all the induction ceremonies over the years.
In a statement, Philadelphia star Tom Hanks said, “Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living. He was the grandest of men.”
Ricki & the Flash star Meryl Streep said in a statement, “A big-hearted, big tent, compassionate man — in full embrace in his life of people in need — and of the potential of art, music, poetry and film to fill that need — a big loss to the caring world.”
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