Silence of the Lambs Director Jonathan Demme Dead At 73


Jonathan Demme, the Academy Award-winning director of "The Silence Of The Lambs", died Wednesday, according to reports. His career spanned 46 years, and his most recent feature - 2015's "Ricki and the Flash" -starred Meryl Streep.

When country superstar Kenny Chesney teamed with film director Jonathan Demme for an American Express Unstaged concert in 2012, the pair ended up making history.

Critics loved this 1980 comedy-drama inspired by true events, starring Jason Robards as billionaire recluse Howard Hughes and Paul LeMat as down-on-his luck gas station owner Melvin Dummar who picks up Hughes after a motorcycle crash.

Demme is survived by his wife and three children.

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Yet his most famous films were a pair of Oscar-winners "The Silence of the Lambs", the 1991 thriller starring Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster as an Federal Bureau of Investigation analyst, earned him a directing Oscar, as well as best picture.

"Swing Shift" was something of a mess, but Demme recovered and then some with the 1984 Talking Heads concert film "Stop Making Sense", still hailed as one of the seminal rock documentary films.

After a semester of writing movie reviews for his campus newspaper, he left college for a publicity job with B-movie master Roger Corman.

Hanks called him "the grandest of men". His 1986 screwball comedy Something Wild, starring Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels, confirmed his gift for combining independent sensibilities with the demands of the mainstream.

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"The Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia" were two of Demme's most popular films.

In 1998 he directed Oprah Winfrey in the movie "Beloved" based on the Toni Morrison novel about a slave visited by the spirit of her dead daughter.

From early on, music played a central role in his films.

Still, as Demme told NPR in 2007, there was one form that continued to draw him back to the camera: documentaries.

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But Jodie was just one of a flurry of stars who paid their respects to the Philadelphia director, with Line of Duty star Thandie Newton also lamenting the loss.