Richard Zanuck, the producer behind such films as “Jaws,” “The Sting” and “Driving Miss Daisy,” has passed away at the age of 77. His publicist says he died Friday (July 13) of a heart attack at his Beverly Hills home.
Zanuck and producing partner David Brown founded a production company, Zanuck/Brown, at Universal Pictures in 1973 and were responsible for producing Steven Spielberg‘s first feature film, “The Sugarland Express,” starring a young Goldie Hawn, in 1974. They went on the next year to produce “Jaws,” Spielberg’s first hit and what is largely regarded as the very first “summer blockbuster.” The two are pictured together above.
Spielberg had this to say in a statement, “In 1974, Dick Zanuck and I sat in a boat off Martha’s Vineyard and watched the mechanical shark sink to the bottom of the sea. Dick turned to me and smiled. `Gee, I sure hope that’s not a sign.’ That moment forged a bond between us that lasted nearly 40 years. He taught me everything I know about producing. He was one of the most honorable and loyal men of our profession and he fought tooth and nail for his directors.”
Zanuck won an Oscar in 1989 for “Driving Miss Daisy.” Morgan Freeman, who co-starred in the film with Jessica Tandy, says of Zanuck, “Richard was a good and longtime friend. A very fine producer who was wonderful to work for and with.”
Zanuck is survived by four children, daughters Virginia and Janet and sons Harrison and Dean.