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Robert Downey Sr. Dead at 85: Robert Downey Jr. Hails Father as ‘True Maverick Filmmaker’

Downey writes that his father "remained remarkably optimistic throughout" a battle against Parkinson's disease.

Robert Downey Jr., left, and his father Robert Downey Sr.

Robert Downey Jr., left, and his father Robert Downey Sr.

AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Robert Downey Sr. has died at 85 years old after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. The father of Oscar-nominated actor Robert Downey Jr., Downey Sr. was a celebrated filmmaking in his own right thanks to his acclaimed 1969 counterculture satire “Putney Swope.” The film took aim at Madison Avenue and told the story of an African American activist who is given a free hand at an ad agency.

The younger Downey took to Instagram following the news of his father’s passing to post the following tribute: “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.”

Among Downey Sr.’s early micro-budget directorial efforts were “Balls Bluff” (1961), “Babo 73” (1964), “Chafed Elbows” (1966), and “No More Excuses” (1968). The director was also an actor, with performing credits in films such as “Boogie Nights” (1997), “Magnolia” (1999), and “The Family Man” (2000), plus many more titles. As a director, his final work was on the 2005 documentary “Rittenhouse Square.”

The Downey duo worked together on films, such as the 1997 romantic comedy “Hugo Pool,” written and directed by the Downey Sr. and co-starring his son opposite Alyssa Milano and Patrick Dempsey. “Putney Swope” remains Downey Sr.’s masterpiece and was chosen for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2016.

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