Joel Schumacher, the gay director of St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, two of the Batman films, and A Time to Kill, has died of cancer at 80 in New York City, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While Schumacher is best known for directing, he was also a writer who began in Hollywood as a costume designer. In the ’70s, Schumacher designed costumes for Play It as It Lays (1972), Blume in Love (1973), and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), to name a few.
From there, Schumacher began writing on films including Car Wash (1976) and The Wiz (1978).
His directorial debut was the 1981 Lily Tomlin starrer The Incredible Shrinking Woman. He followed that up by directing several projects featuring some of Hollywood’s hottest young talent, including several members of the Brat Pack in St. Elmo’s Fire, and Jason Patric, Corey Feldman, and Corey Haim in vampire comedy The Lost Boys. He also worked with young casts on Flatliners and Dying Young, which both featured rising star Julia Roberts.
Other Schumacher feature films include the ’90s hits Falling Down, The Client, and 8mm. He took over the Batman franchise once Tim Burton exited and helmed Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), imbuing those films with more of a comic book style. He also created controversy for green-lighting nipples on George Clooney’s Batman costume. He later apologized to fans for taking the franchise in a new direction at the behest of studio executives.
Born on Long Island, Schumacher lost both parents when he was very young. He later moved to Los Angeles and struggled with drug and alcohol addiction before getting sober, he said in 1999.
“My mother died when I was young too. I've really done everything wrong that a human being can possibly do, except murder someone, thank God. Fast lane, drugs, you know. I'm a survivor of the '60s who stayed way too long at the party,” Schumacher said.
He credits Dominick Dunne and Joan Didion, with whom he worked on Play It as It Lays (based on her novel of the same name) for helping him get on his feet in Los Angeles.
Schumacher’s last big directing gig was in 2013 when he helmed two episodes of Netflix's House of Cards.