Stanley Donen, director of acclaimed movie musicals like Singin’ In The Rain and On the Town, has died at the age of 94.
One of Donen’s sons confirmed the director’s death to Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips. “Confirmed by one of his sons this morning: Director Stanley Donen has died at 94 … A huge, often neglected talent,” Phillips tweeted Saturday morning. Cause of death has not been revealed.
Donen is best known as the creative force behind some of the greatest movie musicals of the Fifties, including 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain, 1954’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and 1957’s Funny Face.
Donen landed three films on the American Film Institute’s list of the 25 Greatest Movie Musicals: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Number 21), 1949’s On the Town (Number 19) and, at Number One, Singin’ in the Rain, a cinematic masterpiece starring Gene Kelly that set the benchmark for movie musicals.
In addition to his groundbreaking work in the musical genre, Donen became a go-to director for actor Cary Grant, who starred in four Donen features: Kiss Them For Me (1957), Indiscreet (1958), The Grass is Greener (1960) and Charade (1963).
Donen’s final big screen film came in 1984 with the sex comedy Blame it on Rio starring Michael Caine. In 1986, Donen directed the music video for Lionel Richie’s song “Dancing on the Ceiling.”
While he never received any Oscar nominations for his work, Donen was presented with the lifetime achievement Oscar at the 1998 Academy Awards by Martin Scorsese, who introduced Donen by saying, “Once upon a time, a lonely boy in South Carolina was sparked by the wonder of movies, captivated by everything from cowboys to comedians to movie monsters. And then he saw his first musical, Flying Down to Rio.”
Donen is survived by his widow, comedian and filmmaker Elaine May.
Everything magical about Hollywood’s golden age is in Stanley Donen’s movies. From some of the most ecstatic musicals of the '50s to the bittersweet melodramas and Hitchcockian thrillers of the '60s, they’re models of grace and engines of pure pleasure. Farewell, dear friend. pic.twitter.com/v06EiJKK43
— Criterion Collection (@Criterion) February 23, 2019