Robert Evans, a true Hollywood icon, died on Saturday night at the age of 89. One of the most memorable and influential producers who ever lived, Evans’ persona was so iconic that his image became a fixture in pop culture for decades. Born in New York in 1930, Evans got his start in Hollywood as an actor in a few forgettable roles. Considering himself a failed actor he returned to life as a salesman, then came back to Hollywood with the intention of producing. It was then that he charmed the head of Paramount Pictures parent company Gulf & Western, Charles Bluhdorn, who then named Evans the VP in charge of production at Paramount—a choice deemed controversial by pretty much everyone at the time.
Throughout his tenure as Paramount’s studio head, Evans oversaw the production of hits like Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story, True Grit, The Conversation and Romeo and Juliet—although he had his share of flops with films like Catch-22 and The Great Gatsby.
Evans transitioned into producing solo in 1974, and hit a home run with his first outing: Chinatown. His subsequent producorial efforts ranged from films like Marathon Man to the ill-advised Popeye, and his 1990s return was more miss than hit (although I hold a soft spot for 1996’s The Phantom), but Evans was a colorful character throughout.
Robert Evans’ legacy was secured with the release of his 1994 autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture, which was subsequently adapted into a documentary feature in 2002.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of this larger-than-life figure at this time.