‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Director Stanley Donen Remembered as ‘Brilliant Storyteller’ and ‘Friend’

“We are indebted to him for as long as there is Cinema,” Guillermo del Toro writes

Stanley Donen
Photo by Mireya Acierto / Getty Images

Hollywood is paying its respects to Stanley Donen, the director of the classic musicals “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Damn Yankees!,” who died Saturday at 94.

“A brilliant storyteller- elegant, exuberant, a master of color and top crane choreographer,” director Guillermo del Toro tweeted alongside a photo of a scene from Donen’s film “Charade” (1963). “We are indebted to him for as long as there is Cinema.”

Donen is credited for popularizing big-screen musical with a series of hits that included 1954’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” 1957’s “The Pajama Game,” and 1957’s “Funny Face,” with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. After leaving MGM in 1950, the director took his talents into non-musical films working on classics like “Indiscreet” (1958) and “Two for the Road” (1967).

“RIP the great Stanley Donen, some feat to have multiple classics in both musicals, but also comedies, thrillers, dramas,” Director Edgar Wright wrote on Twitter. “Just wow,” Wright added after recounting Donen’s many hits.

Steven Spielberg called Donen “a friend and early mentor” in a statement.

“His generosity in giving over so many of his weekends in the late 60’s to film students like me to learn about telling stories and placing lenses and directing actors is a time I will never forget,” Spielberg wrote. “He co-directed what some consider the greatest Hollywood musical of all time ‘Singing In the Rain’ but when he left his partnership with Gene Kelly to go it alone he made his most compelling movies in multiple genres. ‘Charade,’ ‘Bedazzled’ and ‘Two For the Road’ were my favorites. When visiting New York I will miss not bumping into him on his daily walks and hear him talking about life and film which for Stanley were inseparable.”

“Stanely Donen was a treasure whose beloved contributions to film helped shape Hollywood’s Golden Era,” Directors Guild of America President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement. “His roots as a dancer and choreographer, and infectious energy informed his iconic style and precision as a director – which earned him five DGA feature film award nominations for his films Singin’ in the Rain (shared with Gene Kelly) in 1952, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1954, Funny Face in 1957, Damn Yankees (shared with George Abbott) in 1958, and Two for the Road in 1967.”

“We are lucky to have had his presence as an active DGA member through the years, where he so generously shared his craft knowledge and experiences with his fellow members,” Schlamme continued. “Stanley’s unmistakable influence on generations of filmmakers can still be seen all around us today in contemporary film and television. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten.”

See some of Hollywood’s other reactions via Twitter below: