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‘Jaws’ Producer Richard D. Zanuck Dies at 77

Richard Zanuck
Kevin Winter/ImageDirect

Richard D. Zanuck, who produced such films as ‘The Sound of Music’ ‘Jaws,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ died of a heart attack today. He was 77.

The son of legendary mogul Darryl F. Zanuck, Richard was brought into the industry in 1959, where he worked at his father’s studio. He spent most of the next decade there, which led to the best of times (‘Sound of Music’ was a runaway smash) and the worst of times (flops like ‘Doctor Doolittle’ and ‘Star’). Alas, the later was under his tenure as president and he was fired by his own father.

But by 1972 he formed a production company with David Brown, and the two worked on ‘The Sting’ and backed a young Steven Spielberg on his first theatrical outing ‘The Sugarland Express.’ They also produced his next film, ‘Jaws,’ which is credited as starting the summer event film.

Not every film was a winner (some of his bad films include ‘The Island,’ ‘Neighbors’ and ‘Clean Slate’), but he had an eye for talent, and produced such good to great films as ‘The Verdict’ and ‘Cocoon.’ More recently he’s enjoyed a run with Tim Burton, having produced his ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ remakes, along with ‘Big Fish’ and most recently ‘Dark Shadows.’

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