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Richard Donner

Richard Donner

Richard Donner is the creative force behind some of the most popular movies of the last 20 years: The Omen, Superman: The Movie, Free Willy, the Lethal Weapon series and Maverick.

His career began in front of the camera as an actor in Martin Ritt's television production of W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage. Donner continued assisting Ritt and many other great live television directors.

After moving to Los Angeles, he won the assignment of directing his friend Steve McQueen for the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive. In 1961, he directed Charles Bronson in X-15, a melodrama about Air Force test pilots. He continued directing such television series as The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Kojak.

During the 1970s, Donner directed several acclaimed movies-of-the-week, and in 1975 directed his first successful major feature, The Omen, which was released the following year to record-setting business. He next took on the task of transferring the adventures of the most popular pulp hero in five decades to film. Under his direction, Superman: The Movie became one of the all-time biggest international hits.

Four films followed the success of Superman: Inside Moves, The Toy starring Jackie Gleason and Richard Pryor, The Goonies, produced with Steven Spielberg, and Ladyhawke, by far his favorite for many reasons, most importantly because he fell in love with producer Lauren Shuler, who later became his wife. In Lethal Weapon, Donner introduced two cops who would become the cinema's most popular crime-fighting duo, played by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson. Lethal Weapon 2 proved even more successful, and the two stars teamed up for Lethal Weapon 3, released in May of 1992, which went on to become one of the highest-grossing pictures of all time, earning over $150 million.

Donner also produced and directed Scrooged, starring Bill Murray , and the affecting Radio Flyer, and he executive-produced the thriller Lost Boys, directed by Joel Schumacher. He served as executive producer on the HBO television series Tales From the Crypt, for which he directed the pilot, and the Saturday morning cartoon of the same name.

Donner executive-produced the hit family movies Free Willy, Free Willy 2 and Free Willy 3. He directed and produced Maverick, starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and James Garner, Assassins, starring Antonio Banderas and Sylvester Stallone, and Conspiracy Theory, starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts.

Lethal Weapon 4, with all the favorites -- Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo and Joe Pesci -- was released in July of 1998, this time introducing Chris Rock and Jet Li. The Lethal Weapon quartet has grossed nearly one billion dollars.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Richard Donner Facts

Birth NameRichard D. Schwartzberg
OccupationDirector, Producer
BirthdayApril 24, 1930 (93)
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Height6' 2" (1m88)  How tall is Richard Donner compared to you?

Selected Filmography

The Goonies
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
Superman: The Movie
Lethal Weapon
Goonies, The / Gremlins / Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Omen, The: The Complete Collection Blu-ray
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