Robert Downey Jr. is remembering his father Robert Downey Sr.
"RIP Bob D. Sr. 1936-2021…" Downey Jr. wrote. "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."
According to Variety, Downey Sr. was born in New York under the name Robert John Elias Jr. and took his stepfather's surname upon enlisting in the army. In the 1960s, he released a number of films, including Balls Bluff, Babo 73, Chafed Elbows and No More Excuses. And in 1969, he had a mainstream release of his movie Putney Swope.
The actor and director went on to make more movies in the 1970s. Among them were Pound and Greaser's Palace, both of which featured Downey Jr. as a child. Downey Sr. also worked on TV's Sticks and Bones.
"There was this period, circa '74 to '78, when I was 9-13 years old and pop's movies were pretty entrenched and were shown at all these college," Downey Jr. told Deadline in 2014. "Those guys and gals from those universities would make these migrations, sleeping where they could, and it was about how could they get an audience to talk about the process with dad. He was this one-man mecca touchstone for oddballs and artists; and actually a lot of people who went on to have interesting creative careers, too."
In the 1980s, Downey Sr. directed Up the Academy and worked on a few episodes of The Twilight Zone. He also debuted America and Rented Lips and acted in To Live and Die in L.A.. In the 1990s, he released Too Much Sun and Hugo Pool and appeared in films like Boogie Nights and Magnolia. The last movie he directed was the 2005 documentary Rittenhouse Square, and his last acting role was in 2011's Tower Heist.
Downey Sr. welcomed two children—Downey Jr. and Allyson Downey—with his first wife Elsie. The couple divorced in 1982, and he went on to marry Laura Ernst, who passed away in 1994. In 1998, he married Rosemary Rogers.
The National Board of Review also paid tribute to Downey Sr. on social media. "RIP maverick independent filmmaker and actor Robert Downey Sr.," the Instagram post read. "Director of the influential Madison Avenue satire PUTNEY SWOPE, acid Western GREASER'S PALACE and more, Downey can be characterized by his anarchic humor, anti-establishment voice and DIY approach to filmmaking—an inspiration to anyone with aims to tell stories and make films outside the confines of the commercial Hollywood system."
New York Daily News was first to report Downey Sr.'s passing.