Veteran director Stanley Donen, best known for films like Singin' in the Rain and Charade, has passed away at the age of 94. A recipient of an honorary Oscar in 1997 for his influence on the film industry, Donen was one of the few remaining directors from Hollywood's Golden Age.
Kicking off his film career in 1943 as a choreographer, Donen worked on such films as Best Foot Forward with Lucille Ball and Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth. However, just under a decade of choreography work, he finally earned his first directing credit on the 1949 film On the Town with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, which ended up winning the Oscar for Best Music. This jumpstarted a long and successful career as a filmmaker that included Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire, Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn, and Bedazzled with Dudley Moore. However, the films for which he will be remembered most of all are Charade and Singin' in the Rain.
Sadly, Donen passed away on February 23, 2019 at 94 years old, according to Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips. Phillips tweeted that one of Donen's sons announced his father's death, though he didn't specify the cause of death. Donen had a long and successful career, not only as a filmmaker, but in musical theater as well, having first met Gene Kelly - who he'd direct on a number of films - on Broadway. Though he was never nominated for a Best Director Oscar at the Academy Awards, he was given an Honorary Oscar at the 1997 ceremony by Martin Scorsese. You can see his amusing and unexpected acceptance speech below:
2019 has already seen a great deal of influential actors and filmmakers pass away. Most recently, Albert Finney (Big Fish, Skyfall) passed away at 82, following Julie Adams (Creature from the Black Lagoon), Dick Miller (Gremlins), and Bob Einstein (Curb Your Enthusiasm). Donen is the first major director to pass away this year.
To call Donen's talents a major influence on Hollywood is an understatement. His blend of comedy and theatrics became a staple, whether in musicals or not. Singin' in the Rain alone is proof enough of his talents, with highlights including the complicated "Make 'Em Laugh" song-and-dance number with Donald O'Connor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt reenacted this scene when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2009), the lighthearted "Good Morning" song with the film's main trio, and, of course, the title song with Kelly. Donen crafted an inimitable Hollywood legacy, and he will be missed.