Society

Oscar-Winning Director Jonathan Demme Dies At Age 73

| by Lauren Briggs

Film director Jonathan Demme passed away at the age of 73 on April 26 in New York.

The legendary filmmaker, whose iconic body of work includes "The Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia" and "Stop Making Sense," died from esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease, a source told Indiewire. Though Demme was treated for the cancer in 2010, it came back in 2015, and his health rapidly worsened in the weeks leading up to his death.

"Sadly, I can confirm that Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children," Demme's publicist said in a statement, according to Rolling Stone.

The esteemed filmmaker lived a private life, although tributes to him have been pouring out since the news broke.

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"The Silence of the Lambs" star Jodie Foster said in a statement:

I am heartbroken to lose a friend, a mentor, a guy so singular and dynamic you’d have to design a hurricane to contain him. Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas. He was pure energy; the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative. Just as passionate about music as he was about art, he was and will always be a champion of the soul. JD, most beloved, something wild, brother of love, director of the lambs. Love that guy. Love him so much.

Sir Anthony Hopkins, who played the iconic role of Hannibal Lecter opposite Foster in Demme's Oscar-winning venture, also commented on losing the man who brought out the chilling performance that won him an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

"I am really shocked and very sad to hear about Jonathan's passing," said Hopkins. "He was one of the best, and a really nice guy as well who had such a great spirit. My condolences to his family."

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A handful of A-listers, including "Ricki and the Flash" actress Meryl Streep, "Philadelphia" actor Tom Hanks, and "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins, also had kind words to say about Demme's passing.

"I only worked with him once -- he was just like his films: brilliant, curious [and] original," said screenwriter Beau Willimon, according to the Daily Mail. "RIP Jonathan Demme -- a truly great filmmaker."

Demme's family will have a private funeral, his rep confirmed to Rolling Stone. The family asked that anyone who wishes to send flowers instead donate to Americans for Immigrant Justice, a human rights organization that focuses on providing legal, economic and educational services to immigrants, according to the AI Justice website.

Sources: Daily Mail, IndiewireRolling Stone, Americans for Immigrant Justice / Photo Credit: Montclair Film Festival/Flickr

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