Today, Richard Donner passed after a phenomenal life and career. The prolific Hollywood director and producer was 91.
In life, Donner and fellow icons Mel Gibson and Danny Glover would create one of film’s most beloved triumvirates for their wildly successful Lethal Weapon franchise. The four films created the sort of bond that transcends life or death, as Mel Gibson himself proves July 5.
“Donner! My friend, my mentor. Oh, the things I learned from him!” Gibson tells Deadline in his memoriam Monday. “He undercut his own talent and greatness with a huge chunk of humility referring to himself as ‘merely a traffic cop.’”
“He left his ego at the door and required that of others,” he offers of his late friend, adding that Donner “was magnanimous of heart and soul, which he liberally gave to all who knew him.”
“If we piled up all the good deeds he did, it would stretch to some uncharted place in the firmament. I will sorely miss him, with all his mischievous wit and wisdom,” Gibson concludes for Deadline.
A perfect, beautiful sendoff as only a dear friend could deliver.
Richard Donner would Lift Mel Gibson into Stardom
All in all, Mel Gibson would make four Lethal Weapon films with Richard Donner and their partner in crime, Danny Glover. Their journey together began in 1987 with the hit action-comedy that would transform Mel Gibson into a Hollywood A-Lister.
Lethal Weapon 2 hit theaters in 1989, followed by the third and fourth installments in 1992 and 1998 respectively. Over the course of the franchise, all four films would gross over $952 million, Deadline cites.
This was far from the end of their collaboration, however. A strong friendship and mentorship was forged during the Lethal Weapon franchise. From it, Mel Gibson and Richard Donner would also craft Maverick together in 1994 with Jodie Foster. Then, Conspiracy Theory would follow in 1997 with Julia Roberts.
By the end of their remarkable combined work, Richard Donner and Mel Gibson’s joint filmography would gross well over $1 billion.
The Remarkable Life of Richard Donner
Native to Brooklyn, New York, Richard Donner’s career began with television as a director. Many shows as iconic as his films can be found in his TV portfolio. From Gilligan’s Island and The Twilight Zone, to The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Perry Mason, The Wild Wild West, and Route 66, television would cement young Donner as a force to be reckoned with.
Through it all, however, as Mel Gibson states above, the director would never lose his humility. Through this, his work became synonymous with the Hollywood brand. An incredible body of hits in the in the 1970s and 80s – The Goonies, The Omen, and the original Superman (starring Christopher Reeve) – would lead him to his work with Gibson: the Lethal Weapon franchise.
Today, Richard Donner died at the age of 91 on July 5, 2021. His wife, fellow icon Lauren Schuler Donner, would confirm his death to Deadline, alongside his business manager.