Acclaimed producer Richard D. Zanuck dead at the age of 77


Sage Stallone has passed away. Michael Clarke Duncan has had a heart-attack (but is still with us, thank God). And now, confirming that God is in a pissed off mood this week, news in that Oscar Winning producer Richard D.Zanuck (“Jaws”, “The Sting”) has sadly died. He was 77.

Of his many credits, which also include “Dark Shadows”, “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, was a little shark-movie with a troubled production schedule called “Jaws”.

Steven Speilberg said of Zanuck, who passed away on Friday from a heart attack :

“In 1974, Dick Zanuck and I sat in a boat off Martha’s Vineyard and watched the mechanical shark sink to the bottom of the sea,” he recalled. “Dick turned to me and smiled. ‘Gee, I sure hope that’s not a sign.’ That moment forged a bond between us that lasted nearly 40 years.

“He taught me everything I know about producing. He was one of the most honorable and loyal men of our profession, and he fought tooth and nail for his directors. Dick Zanuck was a cornerstone of our industry, both in name and in deed.”

In 1962, at the age of 28, Zanuck was appointed studio head of Fox, by his father Darryl F.Zanuck. For the studio, Zanuck oversaw such classics as “The Sound of Music”, “Patton” and “The French Connection”.

After shepherding a series of flops for Fox, including “Doctor Dolittle”, Fox removed Zanuck from his position.

Zanuck was soon appointed senior VP of Warner Bros, producing such features as “The Exorcist” and “Blazing Saddles”.

In 1971, Zanuck and longtime partner David Brown left Warner to form their own production company, Zanuck/Brown. They would produce Steven Spielberg’s first films “The Sugarland Express” and “Jaws”, and also “The Sting”, which won Seven Oscars.

In the ’80s, Zanuck teamed with wife Lili Fini Zanuck to produce films; their first film, “Driving Miss Daisy” was released in 1989. The duo would later work on “Cocoon”, “True Crime”, “Rush”, “Deep Impact” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, to name but a few.

Zanuck is survived by his wife Lili, two sons and nine grandchildren.