Legendary Hollywood film producer Richard Darryl Zanuck (aka Dick) died this morning of a heart attack at his Beverly Hills home. He was 77. Zanuck’s career spanned more than 50 years, continuing to this day. He most recently produced Dark Shadows, released by Warner Bros in May, bringing the cult television series to the big screen under the direction of frequent collaborator Tim Burton. The gothic comedy marked Zanuck’s sixth collaboration with Burton. Zanuck also produced the worldwide blockbusters Alice In Wonderland and Clash Of The Titans (both 2010) and of course Jaws (1975) alongside a young director named Steven Spielberg. Zanuck’s honors include a Best Picture Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1991 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which he shared with longtime associate David Brown.
After graduating Stanford University and serving as an army lieutenant in the military, Zanuck joined his Hollywood mogul father Darryl as a story and production assistant at 20th Century Fox. He made his debut as a producer at age 24 with the feature film Compulsion, which went on to win a Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the ensemble work of its stars Orson Welles, Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman. He was named president in charge of production at 20th Century at age 28, becoming the then-youngest corporate head in the Hollywood annals. During his eight years at the helm, the studio received an unprecedented 159 Oscar nominations. Three of the films, The Sound Of Music, Patton, and The French Connection, went on to win Best Picture of the Year Oscars. His other successes included The Planet Of The Apes series, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and M*A*S*H*.
Related: Tim Burton On Dick Zanuck’s Passing
Zanuck’s re-imagining of Planet of the Apes, directed by Burton, was released by 20th Century Fox in July 2001 and became one of the top-grossing films of that year in both the domestic and international markets. The film marked the beginning of a years-long partnership between Zanuck and Burton. In 2001, Zanuck and his son Dean Zanuck produced DreamWorks’ critically acclaimed Road to Perdition directed by Sam Mendes, starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law. Afterwards, Zanuck and Burton collaborated on: Big Fish starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman, the 2005 blockbuster Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the 2007 critically acclaimed Golden Globe winner Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street staring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman.