Joel Schumacher, the accomplished director behind such iconic movies as St. Elmo’s Fire and two movies in the Batman franchise, has died at the age of 80.
What was the cause of death? According to Variety, Schumacher died of cancer. His death was announced on June 22, 2020. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he died in New York City and had battled cancer for a year.
He once said of the iconic St. Elmo’s Fire: “The basis of St. Elmo’s Fire (1985) is there’s a group of people. Everyone had their group and you always think you’re going to be best friends forever. But life comes in. So, can you be best friends forever? It touches on universal themes.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Schumacher Got His Start as a Costume Designer
Schumacher was born in New York City, and “studied at Parsons the New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York,” Variety reported, before he decided to build a career in Hollywood. He worked as a costume designer and in television before building his directing career, according to Variety. The Hollywood Reporter notes that he was an only child whose parents both died young.
“By the time I was seven, I was really out on the streets,” he told Venice magazine in 1999. “I’ve really done everything wrong that a human being can possibly do, except murder someone, thank God. Fast lane, drugs, you know. I’m a survivor of the ’60s who stayed way too long at the party.” But he stopped drinking in 1992, according to THR.
Schumacher soon built up a body of work that includes some of the best known and loved films. They included everything from 1987’s the Lost Boys to Lethal Weapon and several John Grisham movies, including A Time to Kill. He also directed Falling Down and Flatliners, among other films.
The Hollywood Reporter noted his ability to spot and elevate talent, from Demi Moore to Julia Roberts to Kiefer Sutherland. He’s also known for two Batman movies, Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997). According to his IMDB profile, he once explained, “The question I always get is, ‘How do you know these young people are going to be stars?’ You don’t. You just know there is no one like them. If Julia Roberts walked into your office at 20 and you didn’t hire her, you shouldn’t be in the movie business.”
Tributes Flowed for Schumacher
People offered tributes to Schumacher on Twitter, calling him a visionary. “RIP Joel Schumacher. Thanks for your vision and my condolences to your family,” wrote one man.
“No! I loved so much of his work. Thank you for all the outstanding entertainment, R.I.P. Joel Schumacher!” wrote another.
“Joel Schumacher made the Batman movies that I grew up on, and for that I thank him. Not to mention Flatliners, Phonebooth, The Lost Boys are all hella entertaining,” wrote another man.
“Sad news. RIP genius Joel Schumacher,” another fan wrote.
Schumacher once said, according to IMDB, “I think I’m one of the luckiest people that ever lived. I got my dream. I got it so much bigger than even I could have dreamed it. You know, I’m just a kid whose parents died very young who was on his own and grew up behind a movie theater before TV, and I wanted to tell those stories, and look what happened.”