Robert Evans, ‘Chinatown’ Producer and Paramount Chief, Dies at 89

Labor News, Industry News

Far Out Magazine; photo by Angela George

Reprinted from Variety by  and  on October 28, 2019.

Robert Evans, the Paramount executive who produced Chinatown and Urban Cowboy, and whose life became as melodramatic and jaw-dropping as any of his films, died on Saturday night. He was 89.

Even though Hollywood history is filled with colorful characters, few can match the tale of Evans, whose life would seem far-fetched if it were fiction. With his matinee-idol looks, but little acting talent, Evans was given starring roles in a few movies and then, with no studio experience, was handed the production reins at Paramount in the 1960s. When he left the exec ranks, his first film as a producer was the classic Chinatown, and he followed with other hits, like Marathon Man and Urban Cowboy. Eventually, his distinctive look and speaking style turned him into a cult figure, and he had the distinction of being the only film executive who starred in his own animated TV series. …

Evans’ successes, start[ed] with Rosemary’s Baby, Romeo and Juliet, Goodbye, Columbus, Love Story and The Godfather films. The degree to which he personally deserved credit for any of these has always been debated, and even Evans claims that some of the best decisions made during his tenure, particularly with respect to The Godfather, were arrived at over his objections. …

Variety 10/28

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Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at

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