Richard Donner, best known for directing such movies as “Superman,” “The Goonies” and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise has died at the age of 91.
Born Richard Donald Schwartzberg in the Bronx, Donner began his professional life as an actor and later moved to directing television programs such as “The Twilight Zone,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Fugitive.”
In 1976 Donner directed his first feature film “The Omen,” that led to Donner to land the directing job for 1978’s “Superman.” Donner would eventually leave the sequel “Superman II,” over a dispute with the films’ producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Donner was replaced by Richard Lester, much of what Donner filmed remained in the finish film.
In the 1980’s and into the 90’s Donner would see plenty of success with 1985’s “The Goonies,” the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, the first one releasing in 1987 and spawning three sequels in 1989, 1992 and 1998. There had been recent talk of Donner wanting to direct a fifth Lethal Weapon movie. Besides the Lethal Weapon movies Donner would also team up with Mel Gibson for 1994’s “Maverick” and 1997’s “Conspiracy Theory.”
Donner also served as Executive Producer on several films during his career such as the “Free Willy” movies, 2000’s “X-Men” and 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” 2016’s “16 Blocks” starring Bruce Willis was the last movie Donner would direct.
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover who both starred in Donner’s “Lethal Weapon” franchise released statements over the passing of their friend and director.
Mel Gibson“Donner! My friend, my mentor. Oh, the things I learned from him! He undercut his own talent and greatness with a huge chunk of humility referring to himself as ‘merely a traffic cop.’ He left his ego at the door and required that of others. He was magnanimous of heart and soul, which he liberally gave to all who knew him. If we piled up all the good deeds he did, it would stretch to some uncharted place in the firmament. I will sorely miss him, with all his mischievous wit and wisdom.”
Danny Glover, saying“Working with Dick Donner, Mel Gibson and the Lethal Weapon team was one of the proudest moments of my career. I will forever be grateful to him for that. Dick genuinely cared about me, my life and my family. We were friends and loved each other far beyond collaborating for the screen and the success that the Lethal Weapon franchise brought us. I will so greatly miss him.”
“The Goonies” star Sean Astin wrote:“Richard Donner had the biggest, boomiest voice you could imagine. He commanded attention and he laughed like no man has ever laughed before. Dick was so much fun. What I perceived in him, as a 12 year old kid, is that he cared. I love how much he cared. Goonies Never Say Die.”