Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. took to Instagram to mourn the passing of his father, Robert Downey Sr., who died in his sleep yesterday. Robert Downey Sr. had been battling Parkinson’s Disease for five years. He is survived by his third wife Rosemary Rogers, and his children Robert Jr. and Allyson Downey.
In a heartfelt post, Robert Downey Jr. hailed his dad as a “Maverick filmmaker” while also remembering his stepmother Rosemary Rogers-Downey, calling her a “saint”. Here is what he wrote.
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“RIP Bob D. Sr. 1936-2021…Last night, dad passed peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson’s ..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.”
Known for his absurdist independent films of the 1960s and 70s, Robert Downey Sr. is a quintessential figure in avant-garde filmmaking. Putney Swope, a 1969 film about a black man who is accidentally elected chairman of an all-white Madison Avenue advertising agency, is arguably his best-known film. He also wrote and directed Pound, an irreverent film in which human actors portrayed animals. The film marked the debut of Downey Jr. at the age of 5. The father-son duo also worked together on other films like the comedies Hugo Pool and Too Much Sun.
Born as Robert John Elias Jr. in 1936, Downey Sr. served in the army, played minor-league baseball, and spend some time in Broadway before venturing into Hollywood. He was one of the pioneers of the low-budget, absurdist independent cinema of the 1960s. His films dealt with the issues plaguing the counterculture anti-establishment America of the time. Most of his films weren’t successful at the box office, but being the first of their kind, they remain of great importance. Putney Swope was deemed culturally or historically significant in 2016 by the Library of Congress who inducted it into the National Film Registry. He also acted in movies like Magnolia and Boogie Nights. His last acting role was in 2011’s Tower Heist.
Downey Jr. idolized his father and has been particularly thankful to him for helping him out in his tough times. It’s no secret that Robert Downey Jr. struggled with substance abuse in the 90s, but his dad too had a history with addiction. “Ten years of cocaine around the clock. I didn’t beat it until ’81, until my late wife gave me an ultimatum. I officially quit in front of my son. He keeps reminding me about it. I tell him, ‘If it made such an impression on you, then why can’t you do the same thing?'” Downey Sr. has said.
Downey Jr. bounced back from rock bottom and went on play Iron Man in multiple MCU films and is now a globally recognized celebrity. 2021 is turning out to be a particularly bad year for Downey Jr. as his close friend and assistant Jimmy Rich died in a car accident in May. Our sympathies are with Downey Jr. and his family in these difficult times.
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