skip navigation
Robert Downey

Robert Downey

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Robert Downey - NOT AVAILABLE

Find what your looking for faster use the search field below to shop for titles.

SEARCH TCM.COM/SHOP


OR ... Click here to VOTE > for this person to be released on Home Video

Also Known As: Robert John Elias Jr., Bob Downey Died:
Born: June 24, 1935 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Tennessee, USA Profession: director, screenwriter, actor, producer, semi-professional baseball pitcher, advertising executive, waiter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Described by an associate as "a big jovial bear", Robert Downey Sr translated his irreverent, mordant humor to the screen as the writer-director of several experimental cult classics of the late 1960s and early 70s. Downey had worked in advertising and lampooned that business in the movie everyone associates with him, "Putney Swope" (1969), about the hilarious changes made by a token black member of an ad agency after he is accidentally elected Chairman of the Board. Though his greatest success, "Putney Swope" appears dated today, and the richer-looking (Downey finally had some money to spend) "Greaser's Palace" (1972) may have withstood the test of time. A super-offbeat Jesus Christ parody with a Western setting, it offers some wonderful performances by Allan Arbus as a zoot-suited Jesus, Albert Henderson as head Greaser and Stan Gottlieb as the "wife" of a deformed Mexican with a lecherous yen for the Saviour, but despite the inspired hilarity, its 91 minute running time seems longer than that. With Chuck Barris, Downey co-wrote "The Gong Show Movie" (1980) and also directed "Rented Lips" (1988), scripted and produced by Martin Mull. Though his acting appearances have been few, he did play an ad...

Described by an associate as "a big jovial bear", Robert Downey Sr translated his irreverent, mordant humor to the screen as the writer-director of several experimental cult classics of the late 1960s and early 70s. Downey had worked in advertising and lampooned that business in the movie everyone associates with him, "Putney Swope" (1969), about the hilarious changes made by a token black member of an ad agency after he is accidentally elected Chairman of the Board. Though his greatest success, "Putney Swope" appears dated today, and the richer-looking (Downey finally had some money to spend) "Greaser's Palace" (1972) may have withstood the test of time. A super-offbeat Jesus Christ parody with a Western setting, it offers some wonderful performances by Allan Arbus as a zoot-suited Jesus, Albert Henderson as head Greaser and Stan Gottlieb as the "wife" of a deformed Mexican with a lecherous yen for the Saviour, but despite the inspired hilarity, its 91 minute running time seems longer than that.

With Chuck Barris, Downey co-wrote "The Gong Show Movie" (1980) and also directed "Rented Lips" (1988), scripted and produced by Martin Mull. Though his acting appearances have been few, he did play an ad agency head in "You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat" (1971), an NCAA investigator in "Johnny Be Good" (1988) and a recording studio manager in "Boogie Nights" (1997). Downey wrote and directed "Too Much Sun" (1991), a weak farce about a competition between a brother and sister (both gay) to have a child first, so as to inherit a fortune from their father. He returned with "Hugo Pool" (1997), co-written with his late wife Laura, about a dedicated, beautiful and lonely Beverly Hills pool cleaner (Alyssa Milano) who becomes involved in the lives of her clients, particularly Floyd, an attractive man afflicted with ALS (the same disease that had felled Laura Downey). His son Robert Downey Jr appeared in "Hugo Pool", the seventh of his father's films in which he has acted.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Too Much Sun (1990) Director
3.
  Rented Lips (1988) Director
4.
  America (1986) Director
5.
  Up The Academy (1980) Director
7.
  Greaser's Palace (1972) Director
8.
  Cold Turkey (1971) 2nd Unit Director
9.
  Pound (1970) Director
10.
  Putney Swope (1969) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Radio Unnameable (2012)
2.
 Tower Heist (2011)
3.
4.
 Family Man, The (2000) Man In House (Credited As Robert Downey Sr--A Prince)
5.
 Magnolia (1999) Wdkk Show Director
6.
 Boogie Nights (1997) Recording Studio Manager
7.
 Johnny Be Good (1988) Ncaa Investigator
8.
 Moving Target (1988) Weinberg
9.
 To Live And Die In L.A. (1985) Thomas Bateman
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Joined US Army at age 16; discharged three years later
1964:
Medium-length directing and screenwriting debut (also producer), "Babo 73" (16mm, 57 mins)
1965:
Drew first critical recognition for "Chafed Elbows"; wrote, directed and produced
1969:
Feature directing and screenwriting debut, "Putney Swope"
1970:
Directed and wrote "Pound"; son Robert Jr's first appearance in a film
1972:
Wrote, directed and produced "Greaser's Palace", an offbeat Jesus Christ parody with a Western setting; son Robert Jr appeared as a multi-talented child
1973:
Directed the controversial CBS/Joseph Papp television adaptation of David Rabe's anti-Vietnam play "Sticks and Bones"
1980:
Co-wrote (with Chuck Barris) "The Gong Show Movie"
1980:
Directed "Up the Academy"; star Ron Liebman had name taken off the credits and advertising, but film isn't that bad; screen debut of Ralph Macchio
1988:
Lurked throughout the feature bomb "Johnny Be Good" as the incognito but hardly inconspicuous NCAA investigator
1988:
Directed "Rented Lips" (scripted and produced by Martin Mull); Robert Jr had prominent role
1991:
Wrote and directed "Too Much Sun", starring Robert Jr
1994:
Portrayed Dr. Kinkaid in the PBS miniseries "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City"
1997:
Played recording studio manager in "Boogie Nights"
1997:
Co-wrote (with late wife Laura) and directed "Hugo Pool"; Robert Jr played Franz Mazur
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Like his son, Robert Downey Sr battled drug addiction, describing it as "a horrible f---ing nightmare. I blew five, six years on that drug [cocaine] . . . I wasn't around as much as most fathers. I was out making films. If Robert wanted to be wild, it was OK with me. I wouldn't do anything differently, except I wouldn't allow anyone to smoke marijuana. I can't believe how we thought it was OK. I don't want to become like an A.A. babbling jerk, but if I knew then what I know now . . ." --Robert Downey Sr in Us October 1996

"My father was and still is my role model. He had to be ballsy to go out and say, 'No one's ever seen anything like this before. I wonder if they'll freak out.'" --Robert Downey Jr in Us, October 1996.

Downey describes "Hugo Pool" as "the right kind of strange. I wrote the script with my wife Laura who died of ALS at age 36. She saved my life and then lost hers. Her enchanting spirit and beautiful absurdist sense of nonsense are what inspired every part of the making of 'Hugo Pool'" --Robert Downey Sr, from the press kit for "Hugo Pool"

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Elsie Downey. Actor, singer. Divorced c. 1978; appeared in several of Downey's films.
wife:
Laura Downey. Screenwriter. Died in 1994 at age 36 of complications from ALS; co-wrote "Hugo Pool" with husband.
wife:
Rosemary Rogers. Music executive, writer. Married on May 8, 1998 in NYC; has daughter from previous marriage.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
James Downey. Comedy writer.
daughter:
Allyson Lee Downey. Born c. October 1963.
son:
Robert Downey Jr. Actor. Born on April 4, 1965.
grandson:
Indio Downey. Son of Robert Jr and Deborah Falconer; born in September 1993.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute