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Richard Donner: The Goonies, Superman and Lethal Weapon director dies aged 91

Written by on 6 July 2021

Richard Donner, director of hits such as Superman, The Goonies, and Lethal Weapon, has died aged 91.

Warner Brothers studio confirmed his death but did not give a cause.

The New York-born director started his career in TV in the 1960s, taking charge of episodes of shows such as The Man from UNCLE, The Twilight Zone and Kojak.

Richard Donner, pictured in New York in February 2016,  at the premiere of his film 16 Blocks Image: Richard Donner, pictured in New York in February 2006

Switching to the big screen, he directed the unsettling tale of the child antichrist The Omen – starring Gregory Peck – in 1976, and two years later had a massive hit with the original Superman film.

The movie made Christopher Reeve a star and also starred Marlon Brando as Superman’s father, as well as Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder.

It went on to become the sixth-highest grossing film ever.

Donner was also behind some of the most iconic films of the 1980s, directing the much-loved kids’ pirate treasure flick The Goonies in 1985, and Lethal Weapon, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, a few years later.

The tale of two mismatched police partners was a huge hit and made Gibson one of the decade’s biggest stars. Donner also directed three sequels.

His other memorable 1980s films include Scrooged – a modern take on A Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray, and 1985’s Ladyhawke with Michelle Pfeiffer playing a “spirit hawk” in a medieval fantasy alongside Matthew Broderick and Rutger Hauer.

The Goonies maintains its popularity with new generations of young audiences Image: The Goonies pirate treasure yarn maintains its popularity with young audiences

The production company he ran with his wife, Lauren Schuler, also produced the X-Men and Free Willy franchises.

Steven Spielberg was among the first to pay tribute, calling Donner “so gifted”.

In a statement through his Amblin production company, he said: “Dick had such a powerful command of his movies, and was so gifted across so many genres.

“Being in his circle was akin to hanging out with you favoUrite coach, smartest professor, fiercest motivator, most endearing friends, staunchest ally, and – of course – the greatest Goonie of all.

“He was all kid. All heart. All the time. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his husky, hearty laugh will stay with me always.”

Corey Feldman, one of the stars of The Goonies, tweeted that Donner “was an incredible human” who was there for him in difficult times.

Shaun Of The Dead director Edgar Wright said Donner’s “big heart and effervescent charm shone in his movies through the remarkable performances of his cast, which is no mean feat”.

“You remember all the characters in Superman, Lethal Weapon, The Goonies & more, because Donner knew how to capture that magic onscreen,” he added.

Mallrats director Kevin Smith tweeted: “Richard Donner made the devil a child in The Omen, invented the modern day comic book movie with Superman, and reinvented the buddy cop movie with Lethal Weapon.

“I got to meet with him last year about a project. Guy was a natural born storyteller. Thanks for all the flicks, Dick!”

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