Steven Spielberg leads tributes to director Richard Donner, who dies aged 91
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Steven Spielberg leads tributes to director Richard Donner, who dies aged 91

'He was all kid. All heart. All the time. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his husky, hearty laugh will stay with me always'

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Steven Spielberg led tribute to Hollywood director Richard Donner following his death aged 91.

Donner, whose credits included The Goonies and the original Superman film, died on Monday in Los Angeles, Warner Bros told the PA news agency.

Spielberg, a close friend, hailed Donner as “the greatest Goonie of all”.

He said in a statement: “Dick had such a powerful command of his movies, and was so gifted across so many genres. Being in his circle was akin to hanging out with your favourite coach, smartest professor, fiercest motivator, most endearing friend, staunchest ally, and – of course – the greatest Goonie of all.

“He was all kid. All heart. All the time. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his husky, hearty laugh will stay with me always.”

Born in the Bronx, New York to Jewish parents, Hattie and Fred Schwartzberg, Donner began his career in television, with credits including anthology series The Twilight Zone and spy thriller The Man From Uncle.

After directing horror film The Omen in 1976, he found international acclaim for his work on Superman starring Christopher Reeve, often regarded as the first modern superhero film.

The Warner Bros blockbuster became the sixth-highest grossing film of all time after its theatrical run and won an Oscar for its visual effects.

Donner went on to direct movies such as The Goonies (1985) and Scrooged (1988) but it was his work on the buddy cop Lethal Weapon series, starring Gibson and Glover, that earned his biggest box office hits.

As a producer, he owned The Donners’ Company with his wife Lauren Shuler Donner which produced the Free Willy and X-Men franchises.

In a statement, Warner Bros described Donner as “a pioneer of the modern superhero, horror and action film genre.

“His films were some of the most popular of their time and many have become modern classics.”

Corey Feldman, who starred in The Goonies as Clark “Mouth” Devereaux, was also among those paying tribute.

He said on Twitter: “Richard Donner was an incredible human. He was there for me in times throughout my life when no other person would.

“Not only was he an incredible director and storyteller of such incredible films like The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, Superman, The Omen, Free Willy and my personal favourite Scrooged but his greatest achievement in my mind was his ability to be a real life superman by always doing what he could to help both humanity and through his love of animals (he) always used his voice for animals rights as well.”

In his tribute, actor Ben Stiller said: “Richard Donner made big time movies. Movies that remain in our consciousness. That never has been and never is easy. Always admired his work.”

And Zack Snyder, director of 2013 Superman film Man Of Steel, tweeted: “Thank you, Richard Donner. You made me believe.”

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