Roger Corman, Beloved Filmmaker, Has Died at Age 98

Roger Corman, producer and writer of indie and B-movies like Death Race 2000 and Sharktopus, passed away on May 9, per Variety. He was 98 years old, and said to have passed surrounded by his family.

Born April 5, 1926, he got his Hollywood start as a mailroom worker for 20th Century Fox in 1950. Eventually, he became a story reader and repeatedly provided notes for The Gunfighter starring Gregory Peck, which he left after learning he wouldn’t be credited. With a desire to work in film, he’d later raise enough money to produce the 1954 sci-fi flick Monster from the Ocean Floor, which did well enough that it spurred him to stay in the business.

Throughout his career, Corman became known for making movies at a fast clip, the majority of which were low-budget genre fare like sci-fi, horror, and action. Those movies helped launch the careers of several actors between the 1950s and 70s: Jack Nicholson, William Shatner, Diane Ladd, and so on. He was equally helpful to those behind the camera, having mentored directors like James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Joe Dante, and Martin Scorsese as they were emerging onto the scene. He’d also handled US distribution for films of the era directed by foreign filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, and Federico Fellini.

Corman was involved in a lot during his life, from the saga of New World Pictures to his comic book imprint Roger Corman’s Cosmic Comics. But through it all, he kept the B-movie genre alive and well by serving as producer on hundreds of movies, which continued well into the late 2010s. From Slumber Party Massacre II to Supergator and yes, 1994’s unreleased Fantastic Four movie, Corman had a hand in getting those out the door, either as a producer or writer. He even had a consistent streak as a director, at least until he stopped with Frankenstein Unbound in 1990.

Over the course of his life, Corman was recognized for his contribution to films. Last year, the Los Angeles Press Club gave him a Distinguished Storyteller Award, and he was given similar honors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producer’s Guild.

Corman is survived by his wife Julie and their two daughters. In a statement to press, the family praised his films as “revolutionary and iconoclastic, and captured the spirit of an age. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, just that.”

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