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Michael Cimino

Michael Cimino

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: director, screenwriter, novelist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Regardless of anything else, director Michael Cimino would be forever associated with two films - the Oscar-winning epic "The Deer Hunter" (1978) and the financial disaster that was "Heaven's Gate" (1980). After a career in advertising, Cimino came to Hollywood as a screenwriter on "Silent Running" (1971) and "Magnum Force" (1971). The latter introduced him to star Clint Eastwood, whom Cimino directed in his auspicious debut, "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (1974). But Cimino staked his claim with the dark and disturbing Vietnam War epic, "The Deer Hunter" (1978), which controversially explored the negative effects of war on the soldiers who fight them. The film drew high praise from all corners while earning Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. With his newfound clout, Cimino went wild with excess on his next picture, "Heaven's Gate" (1980), an impenetrable - albeit beautifully shot - Western that went over budget by a long shot and brought down United Artists after a meager showing at the box office. Though he was given the chance to direct again, Cimino produced more box office flops with "Year of the Dragon" (1985), "The Sicilian" (1987), "Desperate Hours" (1990) and "Sunchaser" (1996)....

Regardless of anything else, director Michael Cimino would be forever associated with two films - the Oscar-winning epic "The Deer Hunter" (1978) and the financial disaster that was "Heaven's Gate" (1980). After a career in advertising, Cimino came to Hollywood as a screenwriter on "Silent Running" (1971) and "Magnum Force" (1971). The latter introduced him to star Clint Eastwood, whom Cimino directed in his auspicious debut, "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (1974). But Cimino staked his claim with the dark and disturbing Vietnam War epic, "The Deer Hunter" (1978), which controversially explored the negative effects of war on the soldiers who fight them. The film drew high praise from all corners while earning Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. With his newfound clout, Cimino went wild with excess on his next picture, "Heaven's Gate" (1980), an impenetrable - albeit beautifully shot - Western that went over budget by a long shot and brought down United Artists after a meager showing at the box office. Though he was given the chance to direct again, Cimino produced more box office flops with "Year of the Dragon" (1985), "The Sicilian" (1987), "Desperate Hours" (1990) and "Sunchaser" (1996). Adding insult to injury, Cimino was long accused of having undergone a sex change operation due to his increasingly effeminate appearance, an accusation he laughingly denied but was unable to shake. While no one could refute his directing talents, Cimino remained the poster child of Hollywood excess and was seemingly incapable of having mainstream Hollywood take him seriously again.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Sunchaser, The (1996) Director
3.
  Desperate Hours (1990) Director
4.
  Sicilian, The (1987) Director
5.
  Year Of The Dragon (1985) Director
6.
  Heaven's Gate (1980) Director
7.
  The Deer Hunter (1978) Director
8.

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 50 Years of Action! (1986) Himeslf
3.
 Kris Kristofferson (1999) Interviewee
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Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Old Westbury, Long Island, New York
1962:
Enlisted in US Army Reserve and served six months
1963:
Worked as director of documentaries, commercials and industrial films
1971:
Relocated from NYC to L.A. to pursue film career
1971:
Feature screenwriting debut, "Silent Running", shared screen credit with Deric Washburn and Steven Bochco
1971:
Shared screen credit with John Milius on "Magnum Force", starring Clint Eastwood
1974:
Feature directing debut (also screenwriter), "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot", starring Eastwood and Jeff Bridges
1978:
Scored biggest success with "The Deer Hunter"; wrote, produced and directed; won Oscars as Best Picture and Best Director
1980:
"Heaven's Gate", budgeted at $12 million and made for $38 million, was a colossal failure leading to the collapse of United Artists
1985:
Directed "Year of the Dragon" which drew wildly different critical reviews; also co-wrote screenplay with Oliver Stone
1987:
Bombed with "The Sicilian"; director's cut, though thirty minutes longer, was considered somewhat more coherent but was also a box-office failure
1990:
Directed and produced the remake of the crime suspense drama "Desperate Hours"
1996:
"Sunchaser", starring Woody Harrelson, shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival; given limited release before heading to video
2001:
Published first novel, "Big Jane", in France
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Education

Westbury High School: Westbury , New York -
Michigan State University: East Lansing , Michigan - 1959
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1961
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1963

Notes

Mr. Cimino's birthyear has variously been reported as 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1943. No two sources agree on the year or the day which has also been variously reported as February 3 and November 16. According to a profile in the March 2002 issue of Vanity Fair, Mr. Cimino showed Steve Garbarino a photocopy of his passport which listed February 3, 1952 as his date of birth. Since Yale confirms that Mr. Cimino obtained a BFA in 1961 and an MFA in 1963, that date seems unlikely, Indeed, in the article, Garbarino writes: "Public records, however, put his birth year at 1939, making him 63."

"Hollywood has always been crazy. It's controlled anarchy. But how can you loathe something that has given you so much? I wouldn't have had the life I've had without movies. Anybody who says they're bitter is sick in their soul. They've given up." --Michael Cimino to The Guardian, December 6, 2001.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Martin Scorsese and Michael Cimino" Scarecrow Press
"Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of 'Heaven's Gate'" William Morrow
"Big Jane" Gallimard

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