Roger Corman, Trailblazing Indie Film Producer, Dies at 98

The filmmaker mentored and launched the careers of Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, James Cameron and many others

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Roger Corman, the pioneering independent film producer who helped launch the careers of numerous filmmaking greats and was hailed as “The King of Cult,” died on May 9 at his home in Santa Monica. He was 98 years old.

His daughter Catherine Corman confirmed his death in a statement to the Associated Press. “He was generous, open-hearted and kind to all those who knew him,” the statement said. “When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, just that.’”

Corman began his filmmaking career in the 1950s, crafting a slew of low-budget features that ranged from “The Fast and the Furious” to “Swamp Women” and “Attack of the Crab Monsters.”

In 1959, Corman got into distribution with the launch of The Filmgroup, then in the 1960s tackled a number of Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, including 1960’s “House of Usher.”

Throughout his career, Corman directed 55 films and produced 385, spanning from 1954 until 2008. In that time, he mentored Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme, Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante, John Sayles and Ron Howard. He also helped launched the careers of actors like Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern and William Shatner.

“Roger Corman gave me my start in movies,” Scorsese shared Sunday. “He set the guidelines, and then he gave me tremendous freedom within those guidelines. In essence, he taught me how to actually make movies. If I hadn’t worked with Roger, I wouldn’t have known how to make Mean Streets or, when it comes right down to it, any of the pictures that followed.”

“It was the same for many, many other filmmakers of my generation,” Scorsese continued. “I admired Roger, I loved him, I loved the pictures he directed (especially the Poe adaptations) and the spirit of his filmmaking. And I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me, and the education. I will always be proud to say that I graduated from the school of Roger Corman.”

Sometimes, filmmakers who Corman mentored cast him in their films — he appeared in Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia,” Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II” and Howard’s “Apollo 13.”

In 2006, he received the David O. Selznick award from the Producers Guild of America and in 2009 he received an honorary Academy Award.

As news of Corman’s death hit on Saturday night, filmmakers and actors took to X to pay tribute to the enormous impact he had on film.

“A wonderful and brilliant producer,” said “Jurassic Park” producer Frank Marshall. “He launched [my career] with TARGETS.”

“Halloween” and “The Thing” director John Carpenter called Corman “one of the most influential movie directors in my life,” adding, “It was my privilege to know him. He was a great friend. He shaped my childhood with science fiction movies and Edgar Allen Poe epics. I’ll miss you, Roger.”


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