Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme has died of cancer complications at the age of 73.
Demme remains best known for directing 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs,” the horror-thriller based on the Thomas Harris novel and starring both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The film was only the third in history to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories (picture, actor, actress, director, and adapted screenplay).
Demme started out his directing career for Roger Corman, including helming iconic women’s prison exploitation film “Caged Heat”. Then came numerous films that slowly built his impressive talent including “Crazy Mama,” “Fighting Mad,” “Handle With Care,” “Last Embrace,” “Swing Shift,” “Melvin and Howard,” “Something Wild” and “Married to the Mob” along with the Talking Heads documentary “Stop Making Sense”.
After ‘Silence’ was such a success, he used his clout to make “Philadelphia” which won Tom Hanks his first Oscar. His 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison’s award-winning book “Beloved” bombed, as did his remakes of “The Truth About Charlie” and “The Manchurian Candidate”.
That’s when he found a new niche – with documentaries on musicians like The Pretenders, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young along with political issues. He also did several music videos, one of which scored a Grammy nomination. In 2008 he returned to narrative filmmaking with the very well received “Rachel Getting Married” which earned acclaim for a stunning performance by its star Anne Hathaway. More recently he helmed the Meryl Streep-led “Ricki and the Flash”.
Demme was married to director-producer Evelyn Purcell. He is survived by second wife Joanne Howard and their three children: Ramona, Brooklyn and Jos.