Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme dies aged 73

The Oscar-winning director of the Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, Jonathan Demme, has died in New York City aged 73.

The director’s publicist confirmed that Demme died from complications linked to oesophageal cancer.

As well as Silence of the Lambs, for which he won a best director Oscar back in 1992, Demme directed Philadelphia, for which Tom Hanks won an Oscar.

Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs

Philadelphia was hailed as one of the first Hollywood films to acknowledge the AIDS crisis.

Starring Denzel Washington, it also acknowledged homophobia and homosexuality.

He also directed Something Wild and Talking Heads.

The director’s publicist said in a statement: “Sadly, I can confirm that Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children.

“He died from complications from oesophageal cancer and is survived by his children Ramona, age 29, and her husband James Molloy, Brooklyn, age 26, and Jos, age 21.

“There will be a private family funeral. Any possible further plans will be announce later.

“In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Americans For Immigrant Justice in Miami, FL [Florida].”

Actor Thandie Newton, who worked with the director, tweeted that she was “deeply saddened” by Demme’s death.

Ron Howard also tweeted of Demme’s passing, saying he was “a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague”.

Born in 1944 as Robert Jonathan Demme on Long Island, he worked for famed producer Roger Corman at the beginning of his career.

Philadelphia movie poster (Image: Wikicommons)

He most recently worked with Anne Hathaway on Rachel Getting Married.

Meryl Streep was directed by Demme in Ricki and the Flash, and in his remake of the Manchurian Candidate in 2004.

As well as Demme winning best director for Silence of the Lambs, the film was also named best picture, won a screenplay prize and saw both lead actors honoured with awards.