Richard Donner, Iconic Film Director, Remembered By Hollywood: “The Greatest Goonie Of All,” Steven Spielberg Says

Richard Donner
Richard Donner directing 1992's "Radio Flyer"

UPDATED with latest: Richard Donner, the director that launched Superman on the big screen and elevated the buddy movie to blockbuster status with Lethal Weapon as part of a five-decade film and TV directing and producing career, died Monday at age 91. His credits included helming such iconic movies across several genres from the horror pic The Omen to the kids adventure tale The Goonies to a Christmas classic Scrooged.

He was remembered in industry circles today for his booming laugh and kindness, with his Goonies co-star Sean Astin saying, “What I perceived in him, as a 12 year old kid, is that he cared. I love that he cared.”

Said Steven Spielberg: “Dick had such a powerful command of his movies, and was so gifted across so many genres. Being in his circle was akin to hanging out with your favorite coach, smartest professor, fiercest motivator, most endearing friend, staunchest ally, and — of course — the greatest Goonie of all. He was all kid. All heart. All the time. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his husky, hearty, laugh will stay with me always.”

Mel Gibson, who became a global star thanks to the Donner-directed Lethal Weapon movies, told Deadline that Donner was his “friend and mentor,” saying “He was magnanimous of heart and soul, which he liberally gave to all who knew him. … I will sorely miss him, with all his mischievous wit and wisdom.”

Said Donner’s Assassins co-star Sylvester Stallone: “I enjoyed working with Dick Donner on Assassins. He was a man’s man, extremely talented! Great sense of humor, his big laughter was like rolling thunder.”

Warner Bros., was rightly thankful for Donner’s brilliant work launching Superman on the big screen with a film many consider a benchmark for superhero success. The studio posted a statement on Twitter lamenting Donner’s loss with the words, “Thank you for helping us all believe a man can fly.”

That film’s EP, Ilya Salkind, said he was very sad at the director’s passing and issued the following statement to Deadline late Monday:

Richard Donner was an extraordinary director and person. Perfect for Superman The Movie. Alexander Salkind and I saw The Omen and we decided to hire him for Superman The Movie. It turned out to be a fantastic choice and the film is now…in the Library of Congress. He told everybody involved in the film to apply verisimilitude.

My father, Alexander Salkind and I had a great collaboration with Dick. We were and still are fortunate and so was Richard Donner as Superman The Movie became a phenomenon…And that set the standard for all comic book/superhero movies to follow.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk spoke out following the passing of Donner, who with producer-wife Lauren Schuler Donner brought 1993’s Free Willy to the big screen. Newkirk remembered the recenty-deceased Donner as a longtime PETA supporter and issued the following statement:

PETA will remember Richard as a brilliant director and producer whose movies drew people to view animals as someone, not something. A pioneer, long before Blackfish opened eyes and hearts, Richard revealed the anguish of captive orcas with Free Willy—and, thanks to the impact of his film, Keiko the orca was rescued from marine park prison and spent many joyful years swimming free in Norway’s coastal waters. Richard holds a special place in PETA’s heart for his activism and kindness, and we will miss him.

Here’s what others who worked with and were inspired by him have said. Keep checking back as we add to the list.

This article was printed from