Filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., father of Robert Downey Jr., dies at age 85
Born in New York City, the iconic filmmaker is best known for directing 1969’s “Putney Swope,” which follows an African-American activist taking charge at an advertising agency.
Robert Downey Sr., the actor and filmmaker best known for classic films such as “Putney Swope” and “Greaser’s Palace,” died Tuesday night after battling Parkinson’s disease, his son Robert Downey Jr. confirmed. He was 85.
The younger Downey announced his father’s death in a social media post Wednesday.
“RIP Bob D. Sr. 1936-2021…Last night, dad passed peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson’s,” he wrote alongside a photo of his late father. “He was a true maverick filmmaker, and remained remarkably optimistic throughout.
“According to my stepmoms calculations, they were happily married for just over 2000 years. Rosemary Rogers-Downey, you are a saint, and our thoughts and prayers are with you,” he concluded the post.
Downey Sr. is survived by son Downey Jr., daughter Allyson Downey and wife Rogers.
USA TODAY reached out to representatives for Downey Sr. and Downey Jr. for comment.
Born in New York City, the iconic filmmaker is best known for directing 1969’s “Putney Swope,” which follows an African-American activist taking charge at an advertising agency. His other filmmaking credits include 1961’s “Balls Bluff,” 1964’s “Babo 73,” 1968’s “No More Excuses,” 1970’s “Pound,” and 1972’s “Greaser’s Palace.”
Downey Sr. also went on to appear in movies such as 1997’s “Boogie Nights,” 1999’s “Magnolia” and 2000’s “The Family Man.”
Though the filmmaker tended to shy away from the press, he opened up about his Oscar-nominated son, who was facing drug charges at the time, in a 2001 interview with the New York Post.
“I have a lot of hope. If he can stay focused and beat this, he can help himself and a lot of other people through his example,” Downey Sr. said at the time. “Life is too easy when you’re a movie star. People will do anything you want and get you anything you want. Hollywood is a horrible place.”
In 2014, the younger Downey discussed his relationship with his father while promoting his film, “The Judge,” which follows a feuding father and son.
“Because he didn’t have a ‘regular job,’ he wasn’t going to a studio, he wasn’t directing a TV series; I remember a lot of times he was just home writing,” Downey Jr. told USA TODAY. “Actually much more so than a lot of my friends, there was a lot of time we’d spend together. I’m remembering now him being more intimate and loving.”