‘Silence of the Lambs’ Director Jonathan Demme Dies of Cancer  

Jonathan Demme won a directing Oscar for the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs.

2 min read
73-year-old Jonathan Demme died in his Manhattan apartment surrounded by his wife and three children. (Photo: AP)

Jonathan Demme, the eclectic movie director whose work ranged from thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs to documentaries on leading musicians, died early on Wednesday owing to complications from esophageal cancer, his publicist said.

The 73-year-old director of the ground-breaking AIDS movie Philadelphia died in his Manhattan apartment surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children, publicist Annalee Paulo said in a statement.

Demme's most recent feature film was the 2015 comedy Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep as an aging rocker.


Streep called him a "big hearted, big tent, compassionate man — in full embrace in his life of people in need," in a statement on Wednesday.

New York-born Demme won a directing Oscar for the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs, which also won Oscars for best picture and for its stars Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

Foster said she was heartbroken at his death.

Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas. He was pure energy, the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative.
Jodie Foster, Actor

Demme's work was wide ranging, ranging from comedy and thrillers to bold fare like 1993 film Philadelphia, one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies to tackle the AIDS crisis. The movie brought an Oscar for Tom Hanks.

Hanks on Wednesday called him "the grandest of men."

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.
Tom Hanks, Actor

Demme also directed concerts and music documentaries for Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Chesney and Neil Young, the band Talking Heads, and more recently, Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.

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