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'Silence of the Lambs' Director Jonathan Demme Dead at 73

Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme died of cancer Wednesday morning in NY.

Movie director Jonathan Demme died in NY on Wednesday morning surrounded by his family. He died from complications from esophagael cancer, she said.

After a semester of writing movie reviews for his campus newspaper, he left college for a publicity job with B-movie master Roger Corman.

Perhaps Demme's biggest and best known film, "The Silence of the Lambs" starred Jodie Foster as Federal Bureau of Investigation trainee Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins as imprisoned serial killer Hannibal Lecter, whom she enlists to help her find another serial killer. That film, released in 1991, has a place in Oscar history as one of only three projects - the others are One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and It Happened One Night - to win the big five Academy Awards: best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, and best screenplay. The director also had an art-house darling with 2008's Rachel Getting Married, which garnered an Academy Award nomination for star Anne Hathaway.

"Swing Shift" was something of a mess, but Demme recovered and then some with the 1984 Talking Heads concert film "Stop Making Sense", still hailed as one of the seminal rock documentary films. "He was the grandest of men".




You could argue Jonathan Demme made the greatest film ever about a psychopathic genius, the most important movie ever about AIDS and the best concert film of all time.

In all, Demme directed 20 movies and 12 documentaries, among a raft of other credits.

In 1998's "Beloved" - based on Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and starring Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover and Thandie Newton - Demme took on the ravages of slavery.

Coincidentally, he also directed tonight's episode of the FOX series Shots Fired.

From mainstream comedy to darker humor, from big-budget films starring Academy Award-winning actors to gems with a decidedly indie vibe, from insightful documentaries to cinema-level TV, Demme's richly layered work was brimming with unique and memorable characters who always seemed somehow to be a part of a plausible world, no matter how insane or weird their situations. "In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Americans For Immigrant Justice in Miami".

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