Jonathan Demme, One of Our Best Directors, Has Died at 73

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Jonathan Demme—the versatile director behind such films as Silence of the Lambs, Something Wild, and the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense— died Wednesday morning in New York, following a long battle with esophageal cancer. He was 73.

While Demme’s biggest hits were Silence of the Lambs, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director, and 1993's Philadelphia, he also helmed decades worth of (more quietly) beloved films such as Rachel Getting Married and Married to the Mob. As an avid music lover, Demme not only directed numerous concert documentaries (including a series of films with Neil Young and, more recently, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids), but often cast musicians such as Chris Isaak, Sister Carol, and David Johansen of the New York Dolls in cameo roles in his movies.

According to IndieWire, the cause of Demme’s death “was esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease, according to a source close to the family. He was originally treated for the disease in 2010, but suffered from a recurrence in 2015, and his condition deteriorated in recent weeks.”

Demme’s first movie was Angels Hard as They Come, a 1971 B-movie about bikers. His last were 2015's Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep, and the Timberlake concert documentary.

The celebrated director leaves behind his wife, artist Joanne Howard, and their three children.

Managing Editor, Jezebel

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Silence of the Lambs, incidentally, is a deeply feminist film. I love this brief shot from near the beginning, which tells you basically everything you need to know about Clarice, the FBI, and the entire movie:

Also, my guy captured David Byrne’s dance moves, and deserves all the thanks in the world for that

(Also, a good group Halloween costume would be going as the entire Talking Heads crew from Stop Making Sense)