Alan Parker, a successful and sometimes surprising filmmaker whose diverse production includes “Bugsy Malone”, “Midnight Express” and “Evita”, died at the age of 76.
As a Briton who became a Hollywood heavyweight, Parker also directed “Fame,” “The Commitments and” Mississippi Burning. “Together, his films have won 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Awards.
The director’s family said he died in London on Friday after a long illness.
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Parker was born in London on February 14, 1944 and, like many other aspiring British directors of his generation, including Ridley Scott and Adrian Lyne, began his advertising career as a copywriter and director of advertising.
He moved to the critically acclaimed 1974 television show “The Evacuees”, which won an international Emmy Award.
Next year, he wrote and directed his first feature film, “Bugsy Malone,” an unusual, enthusiastic musical film of children’s gangster films, including the young Jodie Foster.
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It followed with the 1978 “Midnight Express” story, which is a reality story about the torturous imprisonment of Americans in a Turkish prison for alleged drug offenses. He won two Oscars – including one for Oliver Stone’s screenplay – and won Parker the first of two Best Director nominations.
Parker covered a wide range of themes and genres. While “Shoot the Moon” (1982) and “Angela’s Ashes” (1999) were family dramas, “Birdy” (1984) was a story of war and friendship, “Angel Heart” (1987) an occult thriller and “Mississippi Burning” (1988). a strong civil rights drama that has been nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Director.
Parker was also a notable musical director, a genre he embraced and expanded. “Glory” (1980) was a bold but solemn story of life at the College of Performing Arts; “Pink Floyd – The Wall” (1982) was a surreal rock opera; “The Commitments” (1991) charted the ups and downs of the Dublin soul with broken breath; and “Evita” (1996) cast Madonna as the first Argentine lady, Eva Peron, in a large-screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. His last film in 2003 was the death drama “The Life of David Gale”.
Parker also fought for the British film industry and served as chairman of the British Film Institute and the British Film Council. In 2002 he was a knight of Queen Elizabeth II. And in 2013 he received the highest honor of the British Film Academy, a BAFTA scholarship.
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted: “From fame to the midnight express, the two-time Oscar nominee Alan Parker was a chameleon. His work amused us, connected us and gave us such a strong sense of time and place. He will miss extraordinary talent very much. ‘ “
“Rocketman” director Dexter Fletcher said Parker “unintentionally changed my life at the age of 9” by casting Fletcher as Babyface in “Bugsy Malone.” He said the film still recognized him after 45 years.
Fletcher said Parker “was one of the great, diverse, eclectic and original British filmmakers of his generation and my personal directing hero.”
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British colleague David Puttnam said Parker “was my oldest and closest friend – I have always been respectful of his talent. My life and those of many others who loved and respected it will never be the same again. “
Barbara Broccoli, producer of James Bond films, said that Parker’s films “express elements of his personality that we valued in this way; integrity, humanity, humor and disrespect and rebellion and certainly fun. “
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Parker said, “She never lost the same movie twice.”
Parker was survived by his wife Lisa Moran-Parker, children Lucy, Alexander, Jake, Nathan and Henry and seven grandchildren.