Richard D. Zanuck Has Died

The Jaws producer was 77

Richard D. Zanuck - the legendary producer of movies like Jaws, Driving Miss Daisy and Alice In Wonderland - has passed away, following a heart attack. He was 77.

The son of former Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck and, aptly, actress Virginia Fox, Zanuck - warmly known as Dick in the business - followed in his father's footsteps, taking control of Fox at the age of 28.

He was deeply connected with the productions of films like The Sound of Music, The Sting and Tora! Tora! Tora! But several big-money flops, amazingly, led to his being fired by his own father, which prompted Zanuck to embark on a fruitful relationship with a young tyro named Steven Spielberg for a film called The Sugarland Express.

Jaws soon followed, as did the equally-troubled shoot that was Jaws 2. Zanuck was Oscar-nominated for the former, and repeated the trick in 1982 with Sidney Lumet's The Verdict. He went on to strike box office gold with Cocoon, and then finally won a Best Picture Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy in 1990.

A producer of rare taste and refinement, Zanuck hooked up with Tim Burton for a string of films that began with Planet Of The Apes, included his biggest hit (inflation notwithstanding, in which case it was Jaws) with 2010's Alice In Wonderland, and culminated in this year's Dark Shadows.

Other films on his CV included Deep Impact, Rush,and Wild Bill.

At the time of his death, Zanuck had rekindled that long and fruitful relationship with Spielberg, on Robopocalypse. "He taught me everything I know about producing. He was one of the most honourable and loyal men of our profession and he fought tooth and nail for his directors," said Spielberg in a statement.