Master of the modern horror film Wes Craven died on Sunday, his family announced. He was 76 and had battled brain cancer.
Craven, the artist behind “Nightmare on Elm Street,” the “Scream” movie series and many other modern horror masterpieces, remade the genre in contemporary film.
Craven reinvented the youth horror genre in 1984 with the classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” a film he wrote and directed that starred a then-unknown Johnny Depp. He conceived and co-wrote “A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors” as well.
Then after an absence of three more sequels, he deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing the audacious “Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare,” which was nominated as Best Feature at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards.
In 1996, Craven reached a new level of success with the release of “Scream.” The film, which sent up horror conventions even as it paid homage to them sparked a wildly successful trilogy for Bob Weinstein‘s Dimension Films. The original won MTV’s 1996 Best Movie Award and grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did “Scream 2.”
In a statement Weinstein said: “I am heartbroken at the news of Wes Craven‘s passing. We enjoyed a 20 year professional relationship and more importantly a warm and close friendship. He was a consummate filmmaker and his body of work will live on forever. My brother and I are eternally grateful for all his collaborations with us. Our deepest sympathy to his family.”
Between “Scream 2” and “Scream 3,” Craven directed “Music of the Heart” in 1999, a film that earned its star Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Creatively engaged and working until the end, Craven had recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and had a number of television projects in development, including “The People Under the Stairs” with Syfy Networks, “Disciples” with UCP, “We Are All Completely Fine” with Syfy / UCP, and “Sleepers” with Federation Entertainment.
He was also executive producing the new “Scream” series for MTV. Craven had recently written and was to direct the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” segment for The Weinstein Company / WGN’s “Ten Commandments” television miniseries.
The following statement was released:
It is with deep sadness we inform you that Wes Craven passed away at 1PM on Sunday, August 30 after battling brain cancer. He was 76 years old. Craven was surrounded by love, in the presence of his family at his Los Angeles home.
Craven is survived by his wife, producer and former Disney Studios VP Iya Labunka, older sister Carol Buhrow, son Jonathan Craven with wife Rachel Craven and their two sons Miles and Max; daughter Jessica Craven with husband Mike Wodkowski and their daughter Myra-Jean Wodkowski; and Wes’ stepdaughter Nina Tarnawksy. Craven was predeceased by his parents Paul Eugene Craven, a machinist who passed away when Wes was 5 years old, his mother Caroline, a bookkeeper; and his older brother Paul James Craven.
One of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, Craven was also a nature lover and committed bird conservationist, serving as a long-time member of the Audubon California Board of Directors. He was born in Cleveland, OH on August 2nd, 1939. Craven was a longtime summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard where he moved permanently 3 years ago before returning to Los Angeles for work and health reasons.
In addition Craven continued to be active as a mentor and producer to newer filmmakers, and is an Executive Producer of the upcoming feature film “The Girl in the Photographs” which will premiere at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival.
Craven pushed the genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller, “Red Eye,” starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. And in 2006 he deftly wrote and directed a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the French ensemble production, “Paris Je T’aime.”
Following this, Craven produced remakes of two of his earlier films for his genre fans, “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006) and “The Last House on the Left” (2009). Craven’s most recent written and directed film, “My Soul To Take” (2010), once again brought together a cast of up-and-coming young teens, and marked Craven’s first collaboration with wife and producer Iya Labunka, who also produced “Scream 4,” which reunited Craven with Kevin Williamson, as well as with stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, not to mention newcomers Emma Roberts and Hayden Pannetierre.
Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2015 (Photos)
Anita Ekberg, a Swedish actress best known for her role as a movie star in “La Dolce Vita,” died on Jan. 11 at age 83.
Actor and comedian Taylor Negron, best known for guest star appearances on "Seinfeld," "Friends" and "ER," died on Jan. 10 at 57.
Edward Herrmann, who won an Emmy for “The Practice,” co-starred on “Gilmore Girls” and in “The Lost Boys.” He died on Dec 31 at age 71.
Stuart Scott, an anchor on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” news show, died on Jan. 4 at age 49 after battling cancer.
Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett on CBS sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” died on Jan. 1 at age 81.
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Beau Kazer, who originated the role of Brock Reynolds on CBS soap “The Young and the Restless,” died on Dec. 30 at the age of 63.
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New York Times media columnist David Carr collapsed in his office on Feb. 12. He was promptly rushed to the hospital where he died at the age of 58.
Bess Myerson died Dec. 14 at age 90. Myerson became the first Jewish woman to claim the Miss America crown in 1945.
Gospel singer Andrae Crouch won seven Grammy awards and was Oscar-nominated for "The Color Purple." He died Jan. 8 at age 72.
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Actor Rod Taylor, who starred in “The Time Machine” and “The Birds,” died in Los Angeles on Jan. 7 at age 84.
Joe Voci, former TV executive who helped launch "Murphy Brown" died from brain cancer on Feb. 7. He was 51 years old.
"60" minutes correspondent Bob Simon died in a car crash in New York City on Feb. 11. He was 73 years old.
Louis Jourdan, star of "Gigi" and "Octopussy," died in his Beverly Hills home on Feb. 13 at the age of 93.
Gary Owens, best known as an announcer and voice-over actor for NBC's "Laugh-In," died from diabetes-related complications on Feb. 12 at age of 80.
Peggy Charren, a pioneer in educational programming, died on Jan. 22 at the age of 86.
Alan J. Hirschfield died on Jan. 15 at the age of 79. He was CEO of Columbia Pictures when the studio made "Taxi Driver" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
Singer/songwriter Lesley Gore, best known for her hit "It's My Party," died Monday, Feb. 16 after a battle with cancer. She was 68.
Harris Wittels, co-executive producer of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," died Feb. 19 of an apparent drug overdose at age 30.
Ben Woolf, actor on FX's "American Horror Story: Freak Show," died Feb. 23 after sustaining an injury from a moving vehicle. He was 34.
Leonard Nimoy, famed actor who portrayed Spock in the classic sci-fi series "Star Trek," died Feb. 27 after a long battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. He was 83.
Anthony Mason, 13-year NBA veteran, died Feb. 28 from a heart attack after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was 48.
Charmayne "Maxee" Maxwell, Brownstone singer, died Feb. 28 after falling on a shattered wine glass and cutting her throat. She was 46.
Daniel von Bargen, the actor who played George Costanza's boss on "Seinfeld," died March 1 after suffering from a chronic illness. He was 64.
Patricia Norris, Emmy Award-winning costume designer, died Feb. 20 of natural causes. She was 83.
Albert Maysles, documentary filmmaker known for "Grey Gardens" and "Gimme Shelter," died March 5 after a battle with cancer. He was 88.
Richard Glatzer, co-writer and director of the Oscar-winning film "Still Alice", died March 10 after a long battle with ALS. He was 63.
Alberta Watson, the actress who played Sen. Madeline Pierce on the series "Nikita", died March 21 after battling cancer. She was 60.
Actor Robert Z'Dar, an actor known for "Maniac Cop," died March 30 after going into cardiac arrest. He was 64.
Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John Lennon, died April 1 after a brief battle with cancer. She was 75.
James Best, the actor best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on "The Dukes of Hazard", died April 6 at 88.
Geoffrey Lewis, veteran western actor and father of actress Juliette Lewis died April 7 of natural causes. He was 79.
Eurydice "Eury" Davis, a Hollywood talent agent whose clients included actress Jena Sims and Claudia Katz, died of suicide April 8. She was 38.
Paul Almond died in Beverly Hills from complications of a heart attack on Apr. 9. The 83 year old directed the first entry in the documentary "Up" series.
Percy Sledge, best known for his #1 hit “When a Man Loves a Woman," died from natural causes on Apr. 14 at age 73.
Jonathan Crombie, best known for starring in the 1985 telefilm "Anne of Green Gables," died of a brain hemorrhage on Apr. 15. He was 48.
"Just Got Paid" singer Johnny Kemp was found floating at a Jamaican beach on Apr. 16. Police later ruled out foul play, according to local media reports. He was 55.
Sawyer Sweeten (L), who played young Geoffrey in "Everybody Loves Raymond," died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Apr. 23. He was 19.
"Time Magazine" film editor Richard Corliss died on Apr. 23 from a stroke. He was 71.
Jayne Meadows, best known as the former wife of Steve Allen and for regularly appearing on several classic game shows, died on Apr. 26. She was 96.
Oscar-winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, who worked on "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," died from a heart attack on Apr. 27. He was 59.
Suzanne Crough, who played Tracy Partridge on 1970s sitcom "The Partridge Family," died from a "medical episode" on Apr. 27. She was 52.
Jack Ely, former member of The Kingsmen and singer of "Louie Louie," died on Apr. 28 at the age of 71.
Legendary singer Ben E. King died on Apr. 30 at age 76. He was perhaps best known for his Top 10 hit "Stand by Me."
English actor Nigel Terry died on Apr. 30 from emphysema at age of 69. He was best known for starring in "Excalibur" and "The Lion in Winter."
Silicon Valley tech exec Dave Goldberg died on May 1 from head trauma while vacationing with his wife, Sheryl Sandberg. He was 46.
Elizabeth Wilson died from natural causes on May 9. The 94-year-old actress appeared in multiple films, including "The Graduate" and "9 to 5."
Gill Dennis, the screenwriter who penned "Walk the Line" died on May 13 at the age of 74.
B.B. King, one of the greatest blues musicians ever, died on May 14 from diabetes. He was 89.
John Nash, the inspiration behind "A Beautiful Mind," was killed in a car crash with his wife on May 23. He was 86.
Actress and comedienne Anne Meara, who appeared in dozens of films and TV shows including “All My Children,” “Rhoda” and “Sex and the City," died on May 23 at age 85.
Mary Ellen Trainor, best known for playing Dr. Woods in all four "Lethal Weapon" movies and Sean Astin's mom in "Goonies," died at her home on May 20.
Christopher Lee died in a London hospital on June 7. With over 280 screen credits, including "Lord of the Rings" and "Star Wars," Lee was one of the most productive screen actors of all time.
A producer on "Rocky," "Raging Bull" and "The Right Stuff," Robert Chartoff died at his home on June 10.
Famed film composer James Horner --"A Beautiful Mind," "Titanic," "Braveheart,"--died in a tragic accident on June 22nd while piloting his own plane in Santa Barbara.
Actor Dick Van Patten, known for his comedic work on "The Love Boat" and "Eight Is Enough," died in his home on June 23rd at age 86.
Tony Longo, a 53 year old character actor, died in his sleep from diabetes complications on June 23. He appeared in such films as "Mulholland Drive," "Eraser" and "Fletch."
Legendary producer and Emmy winner, Jerry Weintraub, died at his home in Palm Springs on July 6. He was 77.
Amanda Peterson, who played Patrick Dempsey's love interest in 1998's "Can't Buy Me Love," was found dead in her Colorado home on July 6. She was 43.
Omar Sharif, the 83-year-old Egyptian actor known for "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago," died from a heart attack on July 10.
British character actor Roger Rees, known for roles ranging from "Cheers" to "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," died on July 10 at the age of 71.
After months of medical care following a near-drowning in a bathtub at her Georgia home, Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, died on July 26. She was 22.
Tony Lara, star of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" died on Aug. 8 after suffering a heart attack. He was 50 years old.
Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who stole hearts in "The Artist," was put to sleep on Aug. 12 after battling prostate cancer. He was 13.
Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the youngest actor and first African-American to play Jean Valjean in Broadway's "Les Miserables," died on Aug. 29 after accidentally falling off of his mother's fire escape. He was 21.
Hollywood horror master, Wes Craven, who directed "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Scream," died on Aug. 30 from brain cancer. He was 76.
Dean Jones died from Parkinson's disease on Sept. 1, at age 84. The actor is best known for starring in Disney's "The Love Bug" and "That Darn Cat."
Weather Channel executive Curt Hecht died on Sept. 3 after battling lung cancer for five months.
DreamWorks Animation Head of Production Nancy Bernstein succumbed to cancer on Sept. 18, just eight days after her 55th birthday.
Best-selling romance author Jackie Collins died from breast cancer on Sept. 19 at the age of 77.
Yankees great Yogi Berra, beloved for his well-known "Yogi-isms," died of natural causes on Sept. 22 at age 90.
British director John Guillermin, known for "The Towering Inferno" and 1976's "King Kong," died on Sept. 28 at age 89.
Maureen O'Hara, a veteran of Hollywood's Golden Age best known for "Miracle on 34th Street," died in her sleep at the age of 95.
Al Molinaro, who played malt shop owner Al Delvecchio on "Happy Days," died at age 96 on Oct. 29.
Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator and "Law & Order" alum, died from lymphoma on Nov. 1. He was 73.
Melissa Mathison, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter behind "E.T." and "The BFG," died on Nov. 4. She was 65 years old.
Gunnar Hansen died in his Maine home from pancreatic cancer at the age of 68 on Nov. 7. He is best remembered for originating the role of Leatherface in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
Musician Scott Weiland was found dead in his tour bus just before a concert in Minnesota on Dec. 3. The former Stone Temple Pilots frontman was 48.
Robert Loggia, the 85-year-old Oscar nominee best remembered for his roles in "Scarface" and "Big," died in Los Angeles on Dec. 4.
Marjorie Lord, who played Danny Thomas' wife on the popular sitcom "Make Room for Daddy", died from natural causes in Beverly Hills on Nov. 28. She was 97.
Transgender actress Holly Woodlawn, best known as a muse for Andy Warhol and for appearing in Amazon's "Transparent," died at the age of 69 from brain and liver cancer in Los Angeles.
Marque Lynche, Mouseketeer and "American Idol" semifinalist, was found dead in his New York apartment on Dec. 7 at the age of 34.
Rose Siggins, best known for playing Legless Suzi on "American Horror Story: Freak Show", died in Denver on Dec. 12 after undergoing kidney stone surgery. She was 42 years old.
Louis DiGiaimo, a veteran casting director whose credits include “The Godfather,” died on Dec. 19 after suffering a stroke earlier this year. He was 77.
Patricia Elliott, a Tony Award-winning actress best known for playing Renee Buchanan on "One Life to Live" for 23 years, died of cancer on Dec. 20. She was 77.
Brooke McCarter, best known for co-starring in "The Lost Boys" with Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric, died from a liver condition on Dec. 22. He was 52 years old.
Haskell Wexler, a two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer, died on Dec. 27 at the age of 93.
Meadowlark Lemon, star of the Harlem Globetrotters for more than two decades, died on Dec. 27. He was 83.
Murray Weissman, the veteran awards strategist behind seven Academy Award Best Picture winners, died of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 28. He was 90.
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Lemmy Kilmister, the lead vocalist and founding member of Motörhead, died on Dec. 28 after a short battle with cancer at the age of 70.
Wayne Rogers, popularly remembered for playing Trapper John in the hit series "MASH," died from complications of pneumonia on Dec. 31 at the age of 82.
Natalie Cole, a Grammy-winning R&B singer and the daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, died on Dec. 31 at the age of 65.
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A look back at the stars of movies, television, media and music who we lost this year
Anita Ekberg, a Swedish actress best known for her role as a movie star in “La Dolce Vita,” died on Jan. 11 at age 83.