‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘The Goonies’ Director Richard Donner Dead at 91

by Jon D. B.

Richard Donner, crafter of many of Hollywood’s most beloved films, has died after a remarkable life. The director and producer was 91.

The film industry and world at large mourn the death of a legend today. Prolific director and producer Richard Donner died today, Monday the 5th of July, 2021. His wife, fellow icon Lauren Schuler Donner, confirms his death to Deadline, alongside his business manager. The cause of death, however, is unknown.

Even if the name doesn’t ring an immediate bell, his filmography certainly will. Donner’s work became synonymous with the Hollywood brand in the 1970s and 80s with a string of hits that include the Lethal Weapon franchise films, The Goonies, The Omen, and of course the original Superman (starring Christopher Reeve).

His second Superman film, Superman II, would later receive the highly-praised “Richard Donner Director’s Cut,” which set the precedent for later director’s cuts like this year’s: Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Richard Donner: Death of a Hollywood Icon

The prolific director and producer we know as Richard Donner was born on April 24, 1930 in New York City, New York. His birth name, Richard D. Schwartzberg, would be dropped in favor of his pen name.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Donner’s career began as a television director. Here, many shows as iconic as his films can be found. Such classics as Gilligan’s Island, The Twilight Zone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Perry Mason, The Wild Wild West, Route 66, and The Rifleman would cement a young Donner as one of the most respected directors in the medium.

In 1968, he would make his feature film debut with Salt & Pepper. The British crime comedy starring Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford would hone his skills, but it wouldn’t be until the mid-1970s that Richard Donner began a full-time career in film. He did so with the 1976 horror masterpiece, The Omen.

From there, 1978’s Superman film, the first great superhero blockbuster, would usher in a new era of filmmaking. Donner did so alongside his beloved leading man, Christopher Reeve as the titular Man of Steel. Donner secured a $55 million budget for the film, which went on to gross over $300 million worldwide – an astounding feat for the time cites Deadline.

His marriage to Lauren Schuler Donner began on November 27, 1986. The couple became Hollywood royalty together, with a relationship that spanned the better part of four decades.

Outsider’s sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and countless fans of Richard Donner.