Richard Glatzer, ‘Still Alice’ Co-Director, Dead at 63 After Long Battle With ALS

“The Last of Robin Hood” director was rushed to the hospital just before the Oscars in February

Last Updated: March 11, 2015 @ 11:42 PM

Richard Glatzer, who co-wrote and directed the Oscar-winning film “Still Alice,” is dead at 63 after a long battle with ALS.

Wash Westmoreland, Glatzer’s husband and his directing and writing partner on “Alice,” wrote in a February Facebook post that Glatzer had suffered a significant setback and was rushed to the hospital. He noted Glatzer was communicating through eye movements.

“Not so glamorous but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And Richard will be alive to see it,” Westmoreland wrote at the time, nodding to the telecast that saw Julianne Moore take Best Actress for her portrayal of a matriarch with early onset Alzheimer’s.

Westmoreland issued a heartfelt tribute on Wednesday, calling Glatzer his “soul mate”:

I am devastated. Rich was my soul mate, my collaborator, my best friend and my life. Seeing him battle ALS for four years with such grace and courage inspired me and all who knew him.

In this dark time, I take some consolation in the fact that he got to see “Still Alice” go out into the world. He put his heart and soul into that film and the fact that it touched so many people was a constant joy to him.

Thank you to everyone for this huge outpouring of love. Richard was a unique guy — opinionated, funny, caring, gregarious, generous, and so so smart. A true artist and a brilliant man.. I treasure every day of the short twenty years we had together.

I cannot believe he has gone. But in my heart and the hearts of those who loved him he will always be alive.

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics which released “Alice,” called Glatzer’s death “a profound loss for all of us who worked with him and know him as an exceptional human being.”

“Still Alice,” the most recent movie from Glatzer and Westmoreland, was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at the Toronto Film Festival and released in January. The duo paired on three previous films: “The Last of Robin Hood” (2014), “Quinceanera” (2006) and “The Fluffer” (2001).

A spokesperson for Glazter and Westmoreland issued the following statement:

Writer and Director of Independent films, Richard Glatzer, passed away Tuesday, March 10th in Los Angeles after a four year battle with ALS. He was 63 years of age.

His most recent film, “Still Alice,” co-directed with his husband Wash Westmoreland, mushroomed into a global box office success after its lead actress, Julianne Moore was awarded an Oscar for her performance in the titular role in the 2014 Academy Awards.

Born in Flushing Queens, on January 28th 1952, Glatzer grew up in Long Island and New Jersey, his avid interest in cinema dates back to his early childhood.

A natural student, he received an undergraduate degree in English from An Arbor Michigan then went on to earn a PhD in English from The University of Virginia. He also took charge of the UVA film program and formed a friendship with director Frank Capra that was instrumental in a mid-1970s revival of interest in the Hollywood legends’s work.

In the early 1980s, Glatzer gave up academia and entered the world of film, working under the tutelage of Jay and Lewis Allen (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “Cabaret”). He then moved to the West Coast and started working on the daytime TV show “Divorce Court.”

A committed HIV/AIDS activist, he organized many fund raisers in Los Angeles in the early nineties as well as running a famed underground club Sit-and-Spin. Many of the performers from his club took part in his first independent film “Grief” in 1993 which drew on his background on “Divorce Court” as well his own experiences dealing with the loss of his partner of seven years to AIDS, Donald Ray Berry.

He met Wash Westmoreland in 1995 they became life partners and together made four films as co-writers and directors, The Fluffer (2001), Quinceañera (2006) which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, The Last of Robin Hood (2013) and Still Alice (2014)..

He also worked on several hit reality TV shows including “Road Rules,” “The Osbournes” and “America’s Next Top Model.”

Richard was first and foremost a lover of film. Even after his ALS diagnosis in 2011, he felt compelled to continue his work as a filmmaker and story-teller. Many of his own experience in dealing with disease informed the adaptation of “Still Alice” from the best-selling novel by Lisa Genova. On set, he inspired the cast and crew with his perseverance, co -directed the film by typing with one finger into a text-to-speech app on his iPad.

He is survived by his husband Wash Westmoreland, his sister Joan Kodner and her husband David, his loving nieces and nephews, and his daughter Ruby Smith.


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