Oscar-winning producer Zanuck dies


LOS ANGELES – One day in 1962, the Hollywood legend Darryl F. Zanuck turned to his 27-year-old son, Richard, seeking advice.

Whom, the elder Zanuck asked, should he appoint head of production of 20th Century Fox, which had fallen on hard times and was losing millions on the problem-plagued “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Richard Zanuck gave his father – a co-founder of Fox – a piece of paper with a single word on it: Me.

Dad took his son’s recommendation and, over the next five decades, Richard Zanuck emerged from the shadow of his father at the studio and eventually became an Oscar-winning independent producer of such well-regarded films as “Jaws,” “The Verdict” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Zanuck, who was 77, died Friday morning of a heart attack at his Beverly Hills home, said his publicist, Jeff Sanderson.

While in his 20s and 30s, Zanuck oversaw production at 20th Century Fox, where he nurtured great films and filmmakers and helped the studio collect a long string of Oscars. As a producer, he shepherded the careers of blockbuster directors Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton.

He won the best picture Oscar for “Driving Miss Daisy,” and several of his more popular films were embraced by audiences and reviewers alike, including “Road to Perdition” and “Cocoon.”


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