Jonathan Demme, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ Has Passed Away at 73

Sad news today as Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, has passed away at the age of 73 due to complications from esophageal cancer and heart disease. He is survived by his wife and three children.

One glance at Demme’s filmography and you’ll see an incredibly versatile slate that ranged from B-movie roots, like his Roger Corman-produced directorial debut, Caged Heat, to comedy, like his 1988 hit Married to the Mob, to music, for his work with Bruce Springsteen over the years, to his dramas, like the Oscar-winning Philadelphia, and to his thrillers, like Silence of the Lambs, for which he won a Best Director Oscar.

Demme was the kind of filmmaker who commanded whatever genre he was working in at the time, continually jumping around from comedy to drama to horror, and even helming episodes of Saturday Night Live at one point. His most recent hits include the fantastic Rachel Getting Married and Meryl Streep’s Ricki and the Flash, the latter of which really highlighted not just Demme’s love of comedy and drama, but also music.

Here’s a great 26-minute conversation between Demme and Paul Thomas Anderson that’s so worth watching, especially for those who geek out on camera placement and nerdy behind-the-scenes anecdotes.

Here’s Demme’s acceptance speech when he won the Best Director Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs. The film itself would go on to win five Oscars total.

And here’s our Movieclips director’s playlist for Jonathan Demme.