Prolific producer Richard D. Zanuck, who won an Oscar for his 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy, and the son of former 20th Century Fox boss Darryl F. Zanuck, has died of a heart attack in Los Angeles at the age of 77.
At age 28, Zanuck became the youngest studio chief in history when he was appointed head of 20th Century Fox in 1962. . During his eight-year tenure, the studio churned out numerous hits like 1965's The Sound of Music and 1971's The French Connection, which garnered Oscars.
Zanuck also produced The Verdict, Cocoon and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The production company Zanuck founded later with David Brown produced The Sting in 1973, as well as Steven Spielberg's first feature film, The Sugarland Express, in 1974 and Spielberg's first blockbuster, Jaws, in 1975. The Sting also won the best movie Oscar, although Zanuck and Brown were not listed as its producers.
Here's what Spielberg has to say about Zanuck (via THR):
"In 1974, Dick Zanuck and I sat in a boat off Martha's Vineyard and watched the mechanical shark sink to the bottom of the sea,” he recalled. “Dick turned to me and smiled. ‘Gee, I sure hope that's not a sign.’ That moment forged a bond between us that lasted nearly 40 years.He taught me everything I know about producing. He was one of the most honorable and loyal men of our profession, and he fought tooth and nail for his directors. Dick Zanuck was a cornerstone of our industry, both in name and in deed.”
In more recent years, he has produced Tim Burton’s films, including Planet Of The Apes remake Big Fish Alice In Wonderland and Dark Shadows update