Jonathan Demme Dies; Oscar-Winning Director Was 73

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Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director best known for his work on Silence of the Lambs, died in New York on Wednesday morning.

He was 73 years old.

Jonathan Demme

According to a family source, per Indiewire, Demme passed away from esophageal cancer, along with complications from heart disease.

He was originally treated for the illness in 2010, yet suffered from a recurrence in 2015 and his condition deteriorated in recent weeks.

Demme was famous for living an especially private life, but he couldn’t run from celebrity or the spotlight entirely, not considering his impressive body of work.

Along with Silence of the Lambs (one of the few movies to ever win Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture), he also helmed such hits as Philadelphia (which earned Tom Hanks his first Oscar)  and Rachel Getting Marroed.

Moreover, Demme was behind the critically-acclaimed documentary Stop Making Sense.

The latter chronicled the career of The Talking Heads.

Jonathan Demme Picture

More recently, Demme directed the Meryl Streep comedy Ricki and the Flash in 2015 and the concert documentary Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids in 2016.

He was reportedly in pre-production on a new project, while continuing to curate series at the Jacob Burns Film Center, where he was the chairman of the board.

His last series was Saddle Up Saturdays was a retrospective of western movies that ran through March 2017.

Jonathan Demme Photo

In addition to Stop Making Sense, Demme was heavily involved in other music-themed documentaries, directing films on the Pretenders, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young.

He also directed quite a few music videos, garnering a Grammy nomination in 1987 for best long form music video for “Sun City: Artists United Against Apartheid.”

Demme was married to director-producer Evelyn Purcell.

He is survived by second wife Joanne Howard and their three kids: Ramona, Brooklyn and Jos.

We send our condolences to the friends, family members and loved ones of Jonathan Demme.

Along with all of the celebrities who passed away in 2017.

You can scroll through photos of them above and send along your thoughts in the process.

UPDATE: Hanks has released the following statement in light of this news...

“Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living. He was the grandest of men.”

Added Ron Howard:

"Jonathan Demme was a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague. I’ve known very few like him. He will be missed."

It's also worth noting that Demme's final directorial effort was episode six of the Fox series Shots Fired. It airs tonight.

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