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Home / Entertainment / Alan Parker, ‘Bugsy Malone’, director of ‘Midnight Express’, dies at 76

Alan Parker, ‘Bugsy Malone’, director of ‘Midnight Express’, dies at 76



His family said Alan Parker, a successful and sometimes surprising director whose diverse production includes “Bugsy Malone”, “Midnight Express” and “Evita”.

A Briton who became a heavyweight in Hollywood, Parker also directed “Fame,” “The Commitments,” and “Mississippi Burning.” “Together his films won 10 Academy Awards and 19 Academy Awards.

The director’s family said he died Friday in London after a long illness.

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Parker was born in London, on 14 February 1944, and, like many other aspiring British directors of his generation, including Ridley Scott and Adrian Lyne, began his career in advertising as a copywriter and advertising director.

FILE - British actor Jonathan Pryce, from left, American actress-singer Madonna and Spanish actor Antonio Banderas appear at a press conference for the music film

FILE – British actor Jonathan Pryce, from left, American actress-singer Madonna and Spanish actor Antonio Banderas appear at a press conference for the musical film “Evita” with British director Alan Parker in Buenos Aires on February 6, 1996. Parker, whose films including “Bugsy Malone”, “Midnight Express” and “Evita” has died at the age of 76. A statement from the director’s family says Parker died in London on Friday after a long illness. (AP Photo / Daniel Muzio, File)

He made his television appearance with the acclaimed 1974 critical drama The Evacuees, which won an International Emmy Award.

The next year he wrote and directed his first show, “Bugsy Malone,” an unusual, extraordinary musical paste of gangster casts with children, including a young Jodie Foster.

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He followed it up with the 1978 show “Midnight Express,” the story based on the reality of the horrific imprisonment of an American in a Turkish prison on drug charges. She won two Oscars – including one for her screenplay for Oliver Stone – and won Parker the first of two nominations for Best Director.

Parker ran extensively across themes and genres. While “Run the Moon” (1982) and “Angela Grace” (1999) were family dramas, “Birdy” (1984) was a tale of war and friendship, “Angel Heart” (1987) was an occult thriller, and “Mississippi Burning” ( 1988) a powerful civil rights drama that was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Director.

FILE - British actor John Hurt, from left, American actor Brad Davis, author Billy Hayes and British director Alan Parker appear in Cannes, France for the screening of their film

FILE – British actor John Hurt, from left, American actor Brad Davis, author Billy Hayes, and British director Alan Parker appear in Cannes, France for the screening of their film “Midnight Express” at the 31st International Film Festival, on May 18th. 1978. Parker, whose films included “Bugsy Malone,” “Midnight Express” and “Evita,” has died at the age of 76. A statement from the director’s family says Parker died Friday in London after a long illness. (AP Photo, File)

Parker was also an outstanding director of musicians, a genre he both embraced and expanded. “Fama” (1980) was a bold but celebratory story of life in a performing arts high school; “Pink Floyd – The Wall” (1982) was a surreal rock opera; The Commitments (1991) marked the rise and fall of a Dublin soul band; and “Evita” (1996) cast Madonna as the first Argentine lady Eva Peron in a large screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. His last film was the 2003 death row drama “The Life of David Gale”.

Parker also defended the film industry in Britain, serving as chairman of the British Film Institute and the UK Film Council. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, and in 2013 received the highest honor of the British film academy, the BAFTA Fellowship.

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posted on Twitter: “From Fame to the Midnight Express, two-time Oscar nominee Alan Parker was a chameleon. His work entertained us, connected us and gave us such a strong sense of time and place. “An extraordinary talent, he will lose a lot.”

“Rocketman” director Dexter Fletcher said Parker “inadvertently changed my life at age 9” by casting Fletcher as Babyface in “Bugsy Malone.” He said he is still known from the movie, 45 years later.

Sir Alan Parker attends the opening of Lyric Hammersmith's Reuben Wing and arm

Sir Alan Parker attends the opening of the Lyric Hammersmith Wing Foundation’s Weing Foundation and “Bugsy Malone” at Lyric Hammersmith on April 28, 2015, in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett / Getty Images for Lyric Hammersmith)

Fletcher said Parker “was one of the great, diverse, eclectic and original British filmmakers of his generation and my hero of personal direction.”

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British director David Puttnam said Parker “was my oldest and closest friend – I was always intimidated by his talent. My life, and those of many others who loved and respected him, will never be the same again. “

Barbara Broccoli, James Bond filmmaker, said Parker’s films “displayed elements of his personality that we valued so much; integrity, humanity, humor and irreverence and rebellion, and of course fun.”

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Parker, she said, “never made the same movie twice.”

Parker survives by his wife Lisa Moran-Parker, children Lucy, Alexander, Jake, Nathan and Henry, and seven grandchildren.


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