Richard Donner, ‘Superman’ and ‘Lethal Weapon’ Director, Dies at 91

Prolific director’s last film was 2006’s “16 Blocks”

richard donner

Richard Donner, the prolific director behind 1978’s “Superman” and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise has died, according to media reports. Donner was 91. Donner passed away on Monday, according to his wife, producer Lauren Schuler Donner.

Donner’s last film was 2006’s “16 Blocks.” Other classics directed by Donner include “The Omen,” “The Goonies,” “Ladyhawke,” “Scrooged” and “Conspiracy Theory.”

Born in 1930 in the Bronx, Donner started his career directing commercials for Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Desilu banner. Donner then pivoted to directing television in the 50s and directed episodes of “Wanted: Dead or Alive” and “The Rifleman.” Donner would end up working on 25 television series which included “Have Gun Will Travel,” “The Fugitive,” “Combat!,” “Get Smart,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “The Wild Wild West,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Kojak, “Tales from the Crypt” and “The Twilight Zone.” Donner directed the classic “Twilight Zone” episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” which starred William Shatner as a nervous flyer on a airplane who spots a creature on the wing.

Donner would pivot to movies making his feature directorial debut in 1961’s “X-15” which starred Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore. Donner would break out with 1976 horror thriller “The Omen.”

In 1978, Donner would go on to direct the first modern blockbuster superhero movie “Superman” starring Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, and Gene Hackman. Budgeted at $55 million, “Superman” catapulted both Donner and Reeve into the stratosphere and the film would gross $134 million domestically and over $300 worldwide at the box office. Donner would go on to direct the sequel “Superman II,” however he had a falling out with producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind and Richard Lester took over. Almost twenty years later in 2006, “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” was released on DVD.

In the 80s, Donner would land his next blockbuster franchise and directed Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in 1987’s “Lethal Weapon.” The film would spawn three sequels with the last entry in the series, “Lethal Weapon 4” being released in 1998.

Donner would direct Gibson is six movies, the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, 1994’s “Maverick” and 1997’s “Conspiracy Theory.”

Donner would launch the Donners Company banner with his wife in 1986 and executive produced 2000’s “X-Men” movie along with all the 13 entries in the “X-Men” series which grossed $2.5 billion at the box office.

Donner is survived by his wife and producing partner Lauren Schuler Donner.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.