Jonathan Demme, Oscar-winning 'Silence of the Lambs' director, dies

 26 Apr 2017 - 19:06

Jonathan Demme, Oscar-winning 'Silence of the Lambs' director, dies
This file photo taken on September 3, 2008 shows US director Jonathan Demme during the photocall 1of the movie "Rachel Getting Married" at the 65th Venice International Film Festival at Venice Lido. AFP / Damien Meyer

By Jill Serjeant / Reuters

NEW YORK: Movie director Jonathan Demme, best known for “The Silence of the Lambs” has died at the age of 73, his publicist said on Wednesday.

Demme, who also directed the Oscar winning film “Philadelphia,” was suffering from esophageal cancer, publicist Annalee Paulo said in a statement. She said he died in New York on Wednesday morning surrounded by his family.

“Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children. He died from complications from esophageal cancer,” Paulo said.

Demme’s most recent film was the 2015 comedy “Ricki and the Flash,” starring Meryl Streep as an ageing rocker.

New York-born Demme won the directing Oscar for the 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs”, which also won Oscars for best picture and for its stars Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

Demme’s work was wide ranging, including comedy and thrillers to groundbreaking fare like 1993 film “Philadelphia,” which was one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies to tackle the AIDS crisis. The movie brought an Oscar for Tom Hanks.

He also directed concert and music documentaries for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Chesney and Neil Young, the Talking Heads, and more recently, “Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.”

Other notable films include the 2008 independent drama “Rachel Getting Married,” “The Manchurian Candidate” (2004) and 1988 comedy “Married to the Mob.”

Paulo said the funeral for Demme would be private and that in lieu of flowers the family had asked that donations be made to the group Americans For Immigrant Justice, in Miami, Florida. 

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)