Robert Downey Sr.

Birthday:

06/01/1936

Place of birth:

New York, New York:

Biography:

Robert John Downey Sr. (né Robert Elias Jr.) is an American filmmaker, director and writer. The father of actor Robert Downey Jr., he is best known as an underground filmmaker, serving as director and/or writer of such cult classics as Putney Swope, a satire on the New York Madison Avenue advertising world. According to film scholar Wheeler Winston Dixon, Downey's films during the 1960s were "strictly take-no-prisoners affairs, with minimal budgets and outrageous satire, effectively pushing forward the countercultural agenda of the day." Downey was born in New York City, the son of Elizabeth (née McLauchlen), a model, and Robert Elias Sr., who worked in management of motels and restaurants. His paternal grandparents were Lithuanian Jews, while his mother was of half Irish and half Hungarian Jewish ancestry. Downey was born Robert Elias; but he changed his last name to Downey for his stepfather, James Downey, when he wanted to enlist in the United States Army but was underage at the time. Robert Downey Sr. initially made his mark creating basement budget, independent films aligning with the Absurdist movement, coming of age in counterculture anti-establishment 1960s America. His work in the late 1960s and 70s was quintessential anti-establishment, reflecting the nonconformity popularized by larger counterculture movements and given impetus by new freedoms in filmmaking, such as the breakdown of Codes on censorship. In keeping with the underground tradition, his 1960s films were independently made on shoestring budgets and were relatively obscure in the Absurdist movement, finding cult notoriety. In 1961, working with the film editor Fred von Bernewitz, he began writing and directing low-budget 16mm films that gained an underground following, beginning with Ball's Bluff (1961), a fantasy short about a Civil War soldier who awakens in Central Park in 1961. He moved into big-budget filmmaking with the surrealistic Greaser's Palace (1972). His most recent film was Rittenhouse Square (2005), a documentary capturing life in a Philadelphia park. Downey's films were often family affairs. His first wife, Elsie, appears in four of his movies, as well as co-writing one. Daughter Allyson and son Robert Jr. each made their film debuts in the 1970 absurdist comedy Pound at the ages of 7 and 5, respectively; Allyson would appear in one more film by her father. Robert Jr.'s lengthy acting résumé includes appearances in eight films directed by his father, as well as two acting appearances in movies where his father was also an actor (Johnny Be Good, Hail Caesar). Downey has been married three times.



Credits

Don't Blink: Robert Frank (2015)
as Himself (archive footage) (as Robert Downey)
Pablo (2012)
as Himself
Radio Unnameable (2012)
as Himself
Tower Heist (2011)
as Judge Ramos
Rittenhouse Square (2005)
as Interviewer
Magnolia (1999)
as Crew Member Cameo
Boogie Nights (1997)
as Studio owner
The Sunchaser (1996)
as Telephone Voices
Hail Caesar (1994)
as Butler
The Last Party (1993)
as Himself
Johnny Be Good (1988)
as NCAA Investigator
Moving Target (1988)
as Weinberg
America (1986)
as Paulie Hackley
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
as Thomas Bateman
Energy and How to Get It (1981)
as
Is There Sex After Death? (1971)
as Himself
You've Got To Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat (1971)
as Head of Ad Agency
Putney Swope (1969)
as Putney Swope (voice)
Naughty Nurse (1969)
as
No More Excuses (1968)
as Pvt. Stewart Thompson
Balls Bluff (1961)
as
Rittenhouse Square (2005)
Director
A Touch of Greatness (2005)
Director
Hugo Pool (1997)
Director
Hugo Pool (1997)
Writer
Too Much Sun (1990)
Director
Too Much Sun (1990)
Writer
Rented Lips (1988)
Director
America (1986)
Director
Up the Academy (1980)
Director
The Gong Show Movie (1980)
Writer
Moment to Moment (1975)
Director
Moment to Moment (1975)
Screenplay
Moment to Moment (1975)
Story
Sticks and Bones (1973)
Director
Sticks and Bones (1973)
Writer
Greaser's Palace (1972)
Director
Greaser's Palace (1972)
Screenplay
Pound (1970)
Director
Pound (1970)
Writer
Putney Swope (1969)
Director
Putney Swope (1969)
Producer
Putney Swope (1969)
Writer
No More Excuses (1968)
Director
No More Excuses (1968)
Writer
Chafed Elbows (1966)
Director
Chafed Elbows (1966)
Producer
Chafed Elbows (1966)
Writer
Sweet Smell of Sex (1965)
Cinematography
Sweet Smell of Sex (1965)
Director
Babo 73 (1964)
Director
Babo 73 (1964)
Producer
Babo 73 (1964)
Writer
Balls Bluff (1961)
Director
Balls Bluff (1961)
Producer
Balls Bluff (1961)
Writer

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