Robert Downey Sr., director and actor known for his subversive comedies and roles in “To Live and Die in LA” and “Boogie Nights”, died Tuesday night at the age of 85.
His son, “Iron Man” star Robert Downey Jr., confirmed his death Wednesday morning with a heartfelt Instagram tribute to the “maverick filmmaker,” who has spearheaded several projects. Among them were his directorial debut feature in 1964, “Babo 73”, as well as “Putney Swope”, “Too Much Sun” and a few episodes of “The Twilight Zone”.
“Last night dad passed away peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson’s disease [disease]Downey Jr. wrote on social media.
âHe remained remarkably optimistic throughout [his illness]. By my mother-in-law’s calculations, they’ve been married for just over 2,000 years. “
Downey Jr.’s statement also included condolences to his stepmother Rosemary Rogers, whom he hailed as a “saint.”
âOur thoughts and prayers are with you,â he said.
Born in Manhattan in 1936, Downey Sr. launched his directorial career with three experimental comedy films – “Babo 73”, followed by “Chafed Elbows” in 1966 and “No More Excuses” in 1968 – all of which lasted approximately. one hour.
Film critic Andy Klein once described Downey Sr.’s early career entries as consisting of “Groucho Marx-style dialogue, Richard Lester visual humor, and a little too much sexual content” which provided “a welcome relief âto the general public.
“I’ve always talked about Robert Downey Sr., and I’ve never hidden that I just idolized him,” director Paul Thomas Anderson said at an event in 2014 honoring the veteran of Hollywood.
“He just never seemed to give a [damn]. And quite simply, it’s really cool. “
Downey Sr.’s breakthrough came in 1969 with âPutney Swope,â which he also wrote and produced. Avant-garde satire – featuring Arnold Johnson as the only black man on the board of a Madison Avenue advertising agency who, to the amazement of his condescending white colleagues, is suddenly elected president – remains his most beloved title.
It followed the boundary-pushing success of “Putney Swope” with 1970s “Pound” and 1972 “Greaser’s Palace”, a cult acid western starring Allan Arbus as Jesus Christ’s proxy sailing New Mexico. .
âHe always made you laugh, and that was really his concern,â Anderson said in 2014.
âThat’s the beauty of these things. Or to make a movie that seems as political as ‘Putney Swope’ but really makes it a comedy in its own right. And that’s everyone’s dream, isn’t- this not? level. “
Some of his later works were less well received, such as the 1990s “Too Much Sun,” which starred Downey Jr. and drew the contempt of Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas, who argued that family frolics – fashionable stereotypes about homosexuals and pedophiles. “
Downey Sr.’s last feature film was 2005’s âRittenhouse Square,â a documentary centered on a public park in Philadelphia.
In acting, the elder Downey made his big-screen debut in his own “No More Excuses” as a time-traveling Civil War soldier to New York City in 1968.
He went on to appear in a handful of movies and TV series, including “To Live and Die in LA” and “Boogie Nights”, as well as “Hail, Caesar”, “Tower Heist” and “Magnolia”.
Downey Jr. made his debut in several of his father’s films, such as “Pound”, “Greaser’s Palace” and “Up the Academy”.
Downey Sr.’s daughter, Allyson Downey, also starred alongside Downey Jr. in a few productions of their father.
The filmmaker welcomed his two children during his first marriage to actress Elsie Ford. He then married screenwriter Laura Ernst before his third and final marriage to Rogers in 1998.
âYou’re not just trying to adapt the storytelling to the screen, you’re trying to do something a little different,â Downey Jr. said in 2014 of Downey Sr.’s approach to film making.
“Dad certainly always had a vision for what he did, but he was always looking for those weird little forays into other things, which ended up being what people remember from the movie.”