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Richard D. Zanuck: Farewell to a movie-biz giant

Filmmaker Richard D. Zanuck died of a heart attack on July 13. He was 77.

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Born into the highest echelons of Hollywood royalty, Richard D. Zanuck stepped out of the shadow of his legendary father, Darryl F. Zanuck, to become one of the most successful filmmakers of his time. The Oscar-winning producer — who helped usher in the blockbuster era with 1975’s Jaws, won a Best Picture statuette for 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy, and oversaw a string of other hits — died of a heart attack on July 13 in Beverly Hills at age 77. Zanuck began his career as a story and production assistant at Twentieth Century Fox, the studio run by his larger-than-life dad. By age 28 he was the president of production, and the studio garnered 159 Oscar nominations during his eight-year run on the lot, including three Best Picture winners (The Sound of Music, Patton, and The French Connection). Zanuck was eventually fired by his father in a shake-up that seemed ripped from the pages of a Shakespearean tragedy. But the younger Zanuck thrived as an independent producer, shepherding box office champs such as The Sting and Cocoon with longtime producing partner David Brown. In 1991 the pair received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg award, and most recently Zanuck produced six films directed by Tim Burton, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Dark Shadows. Survivors include his third wife, producer Lili Fini Zanuck.