The producer of Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby passed away over the weekend, according to Variety.
Robert Evans, the prolific and infamous producer behind some of Hollywood's greatest classics, has passed away. The former Paramount executive and production head was 89.
Hollywood is full of colorful characters, but there is only one Evans. His life proved so interesting, it was the subject of a popular and very well-received documentary, 2002's The Kid Stays In the Picture. The documentary served as a resurgence of sorts for Evans, who had his name monogramed on his office at Paramount Studios for decades.
"With his matinee-idol looks, but little acting talent, Evans was given starring roles in a few movies and then, with no studio experience, was handed the production reins at Paramount in the 1960s," Variety reports. After Evans left the exec ranks to give a shot at producing movies, his first film was the classic hit Chinatown. From there, he found instant success with The Godfather, Marathon Man, and Urban Cowboy. Evans is also the first and only Hollywood exec to ever star in his own animated series.
Evans' life itself is a story only Hollywood itself could concoct. It started in earnest when he was "discovered" at a swimming pool in Beverly Hills. That was just par for the course.
He was cast as another iconic movie mogul, Irving Thalberg. He played the part so convincingly that he ended up getting the job in real life not much later.
As head of Paramount Pictures, Evans presided over the era that changed filmmaking. As the studio system faded, a new generation came to power with a brash unbridled creative spirit. Evans helped champion the types of stories and filmmakers (think Coppola and Polanski) that would make big waves in American cinema.
Of course, he famously battled stars and filmmakers for control, and with notes and input. He wasn't always right either.
"I broke every rule and it worked for me and against me but I didn't care" - Robert Evans
He helped define the cliche of the movie producer to the point where Dustin Hoffman "played him" in Wag the Dog. The idea of the moving-and-shaking-wheeling-and-dealing movie mogul was truly born with Evans, and it's never quite been realized the same way since. He was, in his own words, "an original". He was friends with stars, he dated starlets, he made and lost fortunes, he battled addiction.
Evans was everything from the meddling executive, to the champion of creative voices, to the dinosaur of a less tolerant and progressive society, to the man who could reflect on his own journey with perspective and humor. He was a legend in a town of many.
If you love filmmaking you kind of have to love Evans, even if you also hate him, because he loved it so much himself. Robert Evans may be gone, but he won't be forgotten, because you don't need to know about Evans to feel his impact on the industry and the culture.