As news of the death of prolific director Stanley Donen spread Saturday, the industry was quick to remember the helmer of so many classic musicals.
Donen directed such hits as “Singin’ in the Rain,” co-directed with and starring Gene Kelly; “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn; and “Charade,” with Hepburn and Cary Grant.
“Stanley Donen was a friend and an early mentor,” wrote Steven Spielberg in a statement. “His generosity in giving over so many of his weekends in the late 60’s to film students like me to learn about telling stories and placing lenses and directing actors is a time I will never forget. He co-directed what some consider the greatest Hollywood musical of all time ‘Singing In the Rain’ but when he left his partnership with Gene Kelly to go it alone he made his most compelling movies in multiple genres. ‘Charade,’ ‘Bedazzled’ and ‘Two For the Road’ were my favorites. When visiting New York I will miss not bumping into him on his daily walks and hear him talking about life and film which for Stanley were inseparable.”
Guillermo del Toro called Donen “a brilliant storyteller – elegant, exuberant, a master of color and top crane choreographer…We are indebted to him for as long as there is Cinema.”
Stanley Donen. A brilliant storyteller- elegant, exuberant, a master of color and top crane choreographer. He had so much style and so much joy in him… We are indebted to him for as long s there is Cinema. pic.twitter.com/WSyLw6BOHL
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) February 23, 2019
Director Edgar Wright wrote that it was “some feat to have multiple classics in both musicals, but also comedies, thrillers, dramas.”
RIP the great Stanley Donen, some feat to have multiple classics in both musicals, but also comedies, thrillers, dramas. To have made On The Town, Singin’ In The Rain, 7 Brides For 7 Brothers, It’s Always Fair Weather, Funny Face, Charade, Two For the Road, Bedazzled….just wow. pic.twitter.com/MeArtLTaZE
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) February 23, 2019
Mitzi Gaynor commended Donen for “a life well lived.” “What an incredible gift he was to the movies — Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the list of classics is endless, like his talent.”
Bravo to Stanley Donen on a life well lived. I had the honor of being directed by him in 1960’s Surprise Package. What an incredible gift he was to the movies — Singin’ In the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the list of classics is endless, like his talent. #stanleydonen pic.twitter.com/loKKUMsZfd
— Mitzi Gaynor (@TheMitziGaynor) February 23, 2019
Christopher McQuarrie kept it short: “Stanley Donen understood when to move and when to let others do the moving.”
TCM host Ben Mankiewicz shared a story from a Q&A with Donen in 2012. “Stanley Donen was a singular talent in every way,” he tweeted.
“Wait,” he says, “I think that’s my mine.” He takes a phone out his pocket. “It’s my son.” Then he answers it. “Hey, I’m in the middle of something. I’ll have to call you back.” Definitely the only time that’s happened. Stanley Donen was a singular talent in every way.
— Ben Mankiewicz (@BenMank77) February 23, 2019
TCM host Alicia Malone thanked the helmer for making “some of the most magical movies (that will forever be favorites of mine)” alongside a gif of Hepburn in “Funny Face.”
The Criterion Collection tweeted that “everything magical about Hollywood’s golden age is in Stanley Donen’s movies…They’re models of grace and engines of pure pleasure.”
Everything magical about Hollywood’s golden age is in Stanley Donen’s movies. From some of the most ecstatic musicals of the '50s to the bittersweet melodramas and Hitchcockian thrillers of the '60s, they’re models of grace and engines of pure pleasure. Farewell, dear friend. pic.twitter.com/v06EiJKK43
— Criterion Collection (@Criterion) February 23, 2019
The Film Society of Lincoln Center tweeted “R.I.P.” along one of the most famous shots from “Singin’ in the Rain.”
R.I.P. Stanley Donen (1924-2019) pic.twitter.com/FMJTwaRIc6
— Film at Lincoln Center (@FilmLinc) February 23, 2019
The British Film Institute wrote that they are thinking of the director today, who “leave behind a string of glorious musicals.”
Today we’re thinking about Stanley Donen, who has passed away aged 94. The director and choreographer leaves behind a string of glorious musicals, including On the Town and Singin’ in the Rain. pic.twitter.com/TYgLg0dtou
— BFI (@BFI) February 23, 2019
The Tribeca Film Festival also remembered Donen, calling “Singin’ in the Rain” “one of the dreamiest and most dazzling masterpieces ever made” and shared a quote from Donen. “No matter the genre, his films contained everything we could ever possibly want from cinema,” the festival wrote.
"What we all like in life, I think, is the challenge of making something that is not easy." #RIP Stanley Donen, a legend who created movie magic at its most joyful, skillful, and sublime. No matter the genre, his films contained everything we could ever possibly want from cinema. pic.twitter.com/H0ZxTtf3DA
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) February 23, 2019
Stanley Donen and collaborator Gene Kelly behind the scenes of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, one of the dreamiest and most dazzling masterpieces ever made, in 1951. #RIP pic.twitter.com/CNy0kWq8fy
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) February 23, 2019
This story will continue to be updated as more reactions roll in.