Richard D. Zanuck

Active - 1959 - 2015  |   Born - Dec 13, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Died - Jul 13, 2012   |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Fantasy, Crime, Science Fiction

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American producer and production executive Richard D. Zanuck, the son of illustrious production executive Darryl F. Zanuck, began his career in the story department of 20th Century Fox while still in college. Later he became the vice president of Darryl F. Zanuck Productions, in charge of the company's U.S. productions when his father became an independent producer and moved his operations in Paris. When his father again took over the helm at Fox, young Zanuck was made vice president in charge of all productions. He gained complete control in 1969, but during a heated proxy battle was forcibly removed from the presidency. Between 1971 and 1972, he served as the company's senior executive vice president but subsequently quit to co-found a company with David Brown. Among the Zanuck-Brown company's top-grossing films were The Sting (1973), Jaws (1975), Cocoon (1985), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and Deep Impact (1998). Together, Zanuck and Brown earned a number of accolades over their long careers, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991, and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America in 1995. Zanuck died of a heart attack at age 77 in 2012.

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Factsheet

  • Attended his first Oscar ceremony at age 7.
  • As a 9-year-old, despite being the son of movie mogul Darryl F. Zanuck, he got a job selling copies of the Saturday Evening Post.
  • Got the job as head of production at 20th Century Fox in 1962, when his Paris-based father asked the then 28-year-old for recommendations to fill the slot, and Richard presented him with a piece of paper that had one word written on it: Me.
  • At that time, he was the youngest studio head of production in history. 
  • John Gregory Dunne's 1969 book The Studio chronicles one year in Zanuck's life at Fox.
  • In 1970, was fired from Fox by his father after the son had produced a number of musical flops for the studio.
  • Produced the 72nd Annual Academy Awards show with his wife, Lili, in 2000.
  • Between 2001 and 2012, he produced six of director Tim Burton's films.
  • Is the subject of a 2013 documentary, Don't Say No Until I Finish Talking, the title of which is a play on his father's autobiography, Don't Say Yes Until I Finish Talking.