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Richard Zanuck, Producer Of 'Jaws' And 'Driving Miss Daisy,' Dies

Richard Zanuck at 29 in 1964.

Richard Zanuck, the Oscar-winning producer of films like Jaws and Driving Miss Daisy, died today from a heart attack.

In his later years, Zanuck forged an alliance with director Tim Burton. As Variety reports, it began in 2001 with Planet of the Apes and extend with Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland.

Zanuck was 77.

Variety adds:

"Their collective output had generated more than $2 billion in worldwide grosses, with Alice alone accounting for about half of that.

"When they were making 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Burton talked about the "calming influence" of Zanuck. 'I've worked with a lot of people who like to create chaos so they can solve the chaos,' Burton told Variety. 'He's not one of those people. It's amazing that someone who's been through as much as he's been through remains as passionate and optimistic about the whole thing.'

"Zanuck's last notable non-Burton film, 2008's Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey, grossed $97.7 million domestic and $223.2 worldwide, despite mixed reviews."

According to the Hollywood Reporter,Zanuck was the son of Darryl Zanuck, the then chief of Twentieth Century Fox. He graduated from Stanford and served in the Army.

"At age 28, Zanuck became the youngest studio chief in history when he was appointed head of 20th Century Fox in 1962," the Hollywood Reporter adds.

The Wrap says a big part of Zanuck's legacy will be championing director Steven Spielberg.

"Together their adaptation of Peter Benchley's pulpy novel about a killer shark terrorizing a beach town would usher in a new era of summer blockbusters and fundamentally alter the type of movies that the industry makes," The Wrap reports.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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