28 October 2019 20:45
Robert Evans became a legend in Hollywood: the larger-than-larger-than-life studio chief and flamboyant impresario, married seven times and a hypnotically charming raconteur and seducer by vocation. This was a producer with the soul of a 1930s mogul and somehow also the soul of a difficult and demanding movie director. Like the great studio bosses before the second world war golden age, he started in the rag trade, and after a brief acting stint (notably playing the legendary mogul Irving Thalberg in Man of a Thousand Faces) he became a producer. As head of production, he turned Paramount's reputation around with a string of shrewd projects, which his Midas touch turned into critical and box-office gold. Evans was a great progenitor of the American new wave, the mentor to film-makers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Roman Polanski, and the father figure to some great movies, including The Godfather, Love Story, The Conversation, Serpico, The Great Gatsby (with Robert Redford) and many more.
He could turn on precisely calibrated bursts of charm for stars or directors, hot-tempered outrage for their agents, morphing into pleading and devastating waves of flattery; the same eloquence and passion could be fire-hosed upwards at his own superiors. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Evans was father figure to landmark movies such as Love Story. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas affectionately called him "the devil", and many wondered if he was indeed the inspiration for a certain off-screen character in one of his biggest hits: Rosemary's Baby. Certainly he inspired the cynical and outrageous producer figure played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1997 political satire Wag the Dog, and is thought to be a model for the overbearing studio boss in Orson Welles' unreleased tinseltown comedy The Other Side of the Wind. Long films were greatly suspected by producers and exhibitors, because they reduced the number of daily performances and box-office take.
The former actor, whose seven wives included actress Ali McGraw, authored an autobiography, The Kid Stays in the Picture, that itself inspired a film. As head of production of Paramount, he was key to the making of the first two films in the Godfather series. Born Robert J Shapera in 1930, Evans started out as an actor and was cast as a bullfighter in 1957's The Sun Also Rises. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Evans and Ali McGraw married in 1969 and divorced in 1973 He went on to become head of production at Paramount, overseeing such hits as Rosemary's Baby and Love Story. "The producer is the most important element of a film," he once declared.
It was for Polanski's film noir Chinatown that Evans received his only Oscar nomination, for best picture, in 1975. Robert Evans – the Hollywood producer who backed seminal 1970s films like Chinatown, The Godfather and Harold And Maude – has died aged 89. A representative for Evans confirmed that he died on Saturday. His career was a story of comebacks and reinventions. Evans had launched a successful women's clothing line with his brother, Charles, and was visiting Los Angeles on business when actress Norma Shearer saw him sunbathing by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Producer Robert Evans alongside actor Jack Nicholson (Kevork Djansezian/AP) She persuaded her husband, movie mogul Irving Thalberg, to hire the handsome, dark-haired 26-year-old to play Thalberg himself in Man Of A Thousand Faces, a film about horror movie star Lon Chaney. After acting roles faded, Evans re-emerged as head of production at Paramount Pictures and quickly converted the studio from a maker of mediocre films to the biggest hit machine in Hollywood, home to The Godfather and Love Story among others. Years later, and with many flops in between, he produced the 2003 Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey film How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. In 1997, he was widely believed to be the model for Dustin Hoffman's petty-minded Hollywood producer in the satire Wag The Dog. Evans continued the drama off screen by marrying some of the industry's most glamorous women. He was married seven times. His wives included actresses Ali MacGraw, Catherine Oxenberg and former Miss America Phyllis George. Evans penned the 1994 memoir The Kid Stays In The Picture, which was turned into a documentary in 2002. A women's pants salesman comes to Hollywood and jumps into the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel, drawing the attention of an A-list actress. With her help, he begins an acting career, which leads lickety-split to the top job at Paramount Pictures. He helps deliver masterworks like "The Godfather" and "Chinatown." A cocaine blizzard, legal spats and financial ruin come next. If a screenwriter had invented Robert Evans, the script would have been tossed on the rejection pile as too tall a tale. But Mr. Evans, who died on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., was living proof that, at least in Hollywood, truth can still be stranger than fiction. His death was confirmed on Monday by a family spokeswoman, who gave no other details. His colorful, twisty life made him a show business legend — Dustin Hoffman parodied him in the 1997 comedic drama "Wag the Dog" — but his biggest contribution to the movie industry paradoxically involved substance over style. When Mr. Evans took Paramount's reins in 1966, Hollywood was in creative decline, relying heavily on established stars and safely sellable scripts. Mr. Evans helped rewrite the formula for a time by championing young writers and directors with striking cinematic voices. Robert Evans, 'Chinatown' producer and former Paramount chief, dies at 89 Even though Hollywood history is filled with colorful characters, few can match the tale of Evans, whose life would seem far-fetched if it were fiction.