Indie Wire says that filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who won an Oscar for directing Silence of the Lambs, died this morning in New York. This sad news gets the Fuck Cancer tag, because Jonathan Demme reportedly died of esophagus cancer and complications from heart disease. He was 73.
Jonathan Demme’s 45+ year career started in the world of B-movie exploitation films when he worked for Roger Corman. Jonathan made his directorial debut with the 1974 women-in-prison classic Caged Heat. Many would’ve retired after that, because there’s no topping Caged Heat. But he went on to direct Melvin and Howard, Swing Shift, Something Wild, and the Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sense. If Jonathan Demme stopped right there, he still would’ve had an impressive resume, but he went to a new levels of success in the late 1980s.
He directed 1988’s Married to the Mob (aka the movie that gave us the fourth greatest Michelle Pfeiffer performance after Grease 2, Scarface and Batman Returns), and he followed that up with Silence of the Lambs, and he followed that up with Philadelphia, and he followed that up with Beloved. In the aughts, he did Rachel Getting Married and two Neil Young concert documentaries. The last scripted movie he directed was Ricki and the Flash and the last concert movie he did was Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids.
One of his last works was directing an episode of Fox’s Shots Fired. That episode airs tonight and Fox plans to pay tribute to him. Oh, and another important fact I learned while reading his Wikipedia page: he dated Belinda Carlisle for a second in the 80s after working with her on Swing Shift.
He’s survived by his wife Joanne Howard and their three children.
Rest in peace, Jonathan Demme.