Robert Downey Sr Father of ‘Ironman’ Actor Dies at Age 85

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Writer and director, Robert Downey Sr., passed away after years of battling Parkinson’s disease. He was 85 years old. on July 7, 2021, “Ironman” actor, Robert Downey Jr. announced on his Instagram page, announced that his father “passed peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson’s.”

His son further described him as “a true maverick filmmaker, and remained remarkably optimistic throughout.”

The filmmaker was born on June 24, 1936, in Manhattan, New York. At that time he was named Robert John Elias Jr. Before he reached the age of 22 he:

  • Played in minor-league baseball.
  • Served in the United States Army.
  • Was an off-off-Broadway playwright.
  • And a Golden Gloves champion.

DowneyWhen he enlisted in the army the writer took his step-father’s — James Downey — surname. He began his career in 1960, writing and directing low-budget films. His absurd films gained an underground following.

“Balls Bluff,” “Babo,” and “No More Excuses,” are a few of the films he first directed. His first mainstream release was the film  “Putney Swope.” This movie explored what happens when an African-American is given full authority at an advertisement agency. According to the New York Magazine, “Putney Swope” was among 1969’s Top 10 Films.

Downey played small roles in a few films, such as:

  • “Boogie Nights” in 1997.
  • “Magnolia” in 1999.
  • “The Family Man” in 2000.

The director even made guest appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” and “The Dick Cavett Show.” In addition to countless other shows, Downey made appearances on radio shows.

He was married three times in his life. The first was to Elsie Downey in 1962. They had two children — Allyson and Robert Jr. — together before divorcing in February 1982. His second marriage was to Laura Ernst on March 15, 1991. They were married until she passed in January of 1994.

He married his last wife, Rosemary Rogers, on May 8, 1998. At the time of Downey’s death, they had been married for 23 years.

The filmmaker’s son finished his Instagram post saying, “Rosemary Rogers-Downey, you are a saint, and our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Written by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

CNN: Robert Downey Sr., director and father of Robert Downey Jr., has died; by Chloe Melas

IMDb: Roberts Downey Sr.; by Liam McKenna

Top and Featured Images Courtesy of Rubenstein’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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