One of the absolute legends of filmmaking with a career that spanned over five decades, filmmaker Norman Jewison, has died at the age of 97 at his home on Saturday, as reported by a spokesman for his family.
Jewison received seven Oscar nominations between 1967 and 1988 for classic films such as The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming, In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, A Soldier’s Story, and Moonstruck, directing three actors to Oscar wins.
Born in Toronto on July 21, 1926, Jewison began his career working in Canadian television, but In the Heat of the Night was a huge breakout film, winning Best Picture in 1967, and winning four more Oscars. Jewison would win Best Director that year to Mike Nichols for The Graduate.
Jewison was also nominated for his direction and production on the movie musical, Fiddler on the Roof, which received eight Oscar nominations, winning three for cinematography, sound, and for John Williams‘ score.
Other classic films in Jewison’s filmography include the 1968 heist thriller, The Thomas Crown Affair, the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, the sci-fi classic Rollerball, and the play-based mystery Agnes of God, which received three Oscar nominations.
Jewison also directed Denzel Washington to his fourth Oscar nomination for 1999’s The Hurricane.
Jewison was eventually honored with the honorary Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and in 2004, he wrote a memoir called This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me.
On a more personal note, I’ve been a fan of Jewison’s work for most of my life, particularly his two musicals, but I recently had a chance to see the underrated The Cincinatti Kid, as well as recently seeing In the Heat of the Night and The Thomas Crown Affair, and his influence on so many filmmakers that followed him — including another legend, Hal Ashby (who edited some of Jewison’s earlier films), is undeniable.