Robert Downey Sr., Iconic Filmmaker and Father of Robert Downey Jr., Dies at 85

by Matthew Wilson

Robert Downey Sr. has died. The filmmaker was an icon in Hollywood and also father to A-Lister Robert Downey Jr. as well. The director passed away on Wednesday (July 7th) at his home in New York City. Downey Sr. was 85-years-old.

Downey struggled with and battled Parkinson’s Disease for the last half-decade. But according to Daily Mail, Downey passed away peacefully in his sleep. His wife confirmed his death to the outlet. Downey’s best ode to fame was as the director for “Putney Swope.” That film was a satire about the advertising world. It poked fun at Madison Avenue and the workers there.

Downey’s career stretched from the 1950s all the way until 2011. He worked as both an actor and a director, appearing in both film and television. For instance, Downey directed several episodes of the classic anthology series “The Twilight Zone” as well. His final film was “Tower Heist” in 2011.

Downey retired to New York City where he spent the last decade living with his wife Rosemary.

Robert Downey Sr.’s Life and Career

Downey was born in 1936 as Robert Elias, Jr. But he later adopted the name of his stepfather James Downey instead. Rather than a mark of affection, Downey attempted to join the military as just a teenager. He tried to fool military recruiters with the name change but it failed to work.

Kicking off his career in the 1950s, it wasn’t long before he became a leading figure in the world of independent films. Downey tapped into the counter-culture of the 1960s. For instance, his films often took swipes at the establishment such as “Putney Swope.”

Another of Downey’s classics is “Cold Turkey” where he worked as a second unit director. That film explored an entire town quitting smoking “cold turkey” in an attempt to prove that cigarettes weren’t addictive. In 1972, Downey Sr filmed “Greaser’s Palace,” a mainstream hit for the director. But even then, he stuck with the biting commentary that made him a signature director of the era.

Downey is also the father of Robert Downey Jr, who followed him into the entertainment industry. Downey Jr. had a rocky career, battling substance abuse. But in recent decades, he revitalized his career by starring in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Tony Stark or Iron Man.

Several fans took to Twitter to memorialize Downey Sr. One wrote: “Robert Downey Sr rip you lived well and your son will continue your legacy.”

And another commented, “RIP robert downey sr. putney swope a classic!”

Downey is best remembered for his legacy behind the screen and for inspiring his son to follow in his footsteps. He leaves behind a collection of work for fans to enjoy.