Independent Filmmaker Roger Corman Dies at 98

The native Detroiter was responsible for films like “Piranha,” “The Little Shop of Horrors,” and several adaptions of work by Edgar Allen Poe.
Roger Corman poses at his Los Angeles estate in 2013. // Photograph by Jimmy Steinfedlt

American film director Roger Corman died surrounded by family in his Santa Monica home on Thursday, May 9, according to a statement posted on his official Instagram. A cause of death was not mentioned. He was 98 years old.

Corman was born in Detroit on April 5, 1926, before moving to Southern California with his family and attending Beverly Hills High School. He would go on to earn a degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University before making the jump into filmmaking in the ‘50s.

Known as the “King of the Bs,” according to a report from ABC News, Corman was well-known for making hundreds of low-budget B-list movies including his breakout hit Monster from the Ocean Floor, nine Bloodfist movies, Machine-Gun Kelly, and several monster movies such as The Wasp Woman, Piranha, and The Little Shop of Horrors, among others.

In addition, he directed a film adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum as well as several other works by Edgar Allen Poe.

Corman married his wife Julie Halloran in 1964. In 1970, he founded his own independent production company, New World Pictures, with his brother Gene.

In 2009, Corman received an honorary Academy Award, and during that ceremony, director Quentin Tarantino called Corman a “producer and director unlike any in Hollywood history.”

Through his creative ventures, Corman was able to jumpstart the careers of several prominent actors and directors in the business. Jack Nicholson, for example, made his debut in Corman’s The Cry Baby Killer. According to a report from CBS News, Robert De Niro, Bruce Dern, and Ellen Burstyn as well as filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, and James Cameron all worked on Corman films as well.

According to the Instagram post announcing his death, Corman is survived by his wife and two daughters, Catherine and Mary. In that same post, the trio honored his life and remembered his legacy, saying in part:

“He was generous, open-hearted and kind to all those who knew him. A devoted and selfless father, he was deeply loved by his daughters. His films were revolutionary and iconoclastic, and captured the spirit of an age.”

The statement continued: “When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, just that.’”

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