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Robert Downey Sr., an actor and filmmaker, and father of Robert Downey Jr., has died. He was 85.
Downey Jr. confirmed his father’s death via Instagram on Wednesday, writing that he died “peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson’s.” Downey Jr. went on to call his father a “true maverick filmmaker” who “remained remarkably optimistic” throughout his illness.
Downey began acting in the early 1960s, with Boogie Nights, To Live and Die in L.A., The Family Man and Tower Heist among his robust credit list. He also appeared in the TV series 1st & Ten and Saturday Night Live, which was his last television credit in 2015.
As a director, Downey made films such as comedies Babo 73, No More Excuses, Rented Lips and Hugo Pool, which Downey Jr. starred in. The filmmaker became well known for low-budget, underground projects such as the 1969 satire Putney Swope, in which African American executives take over an all-white agency. He was also active in numerous other departments, from cinematography to producing, writing and editing.
In the ’70s, he made irreverent films such as Pound, which saw humans behaving like dogs and saw Robert Jr. make his film debut at age 5, and Greaser’s Palace, a parable based on the life of Christ.
Downey was born in 1936 in New York City. He served in the army before launching his entertainment career, He married three times, and fathered two children, Allyson and Robert, with his first wife Elsie Ann Downey.
He is survived by his third wife, music producer and writer Rosemary Rogers, and his children.
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