Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. is paying tribute to "a true maverick filmmaker," his father, Robert Downey Sr. The Putney Swope director passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 85 following a years-long battle with Parkinson's disease, with his actor son breaking his silence on his father's death in a moving tribute shared on social media shortly after news of the legendary filmmaker's passing broke.
Sharing a throwback black-and-white photo of his father on Instagram, Downey Jr. confirmed, "Last night, dad passed peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson's." He included, "RIP Bob D. Sr. 1936-2021." The actor remembered his father, who was a leading figure in the 1950s and '60s independent cinema, as "a true maverick filmmaker" who "remained remarkably optimistic throughout" his battle with the disease. In the message, Downey Jr. also paid tribute to his stepmother, bestselling author Rosemary Rogers, who he called "a saint." He said according to Rogers' calculations, she and Downey Sr. were "happily married for just over 2000 years." He ended the post by writing that his "thoughts and prayers" are with his stepmother, who was by Downey Sr.'s bedside when he passed away in his sleep at his New York City home early Wednesday morning at the age of 85.
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Born in Manhattan in 1936 as Robert Elias Jr., and later changing his last name for his stepfather, James Downey, when he wanted to enlist in the U.S. Army but was underage, Downey Sr. was best known for his breakthrough anti-establishment films, including 1969's Putney Swope and 1972's Greaser's Palace, which helped him break into mainstream cinema. Speaking with The Off Camera Show in 2016, Downey Jr. said he remembered his father being treated with "reverence."
"Particularly around the time Putney Swope came out, it really was kind of a mind-blowing satire of advertising, power, corruption. That's what I heard a lot, that my dad was brilliant," he said. "I remember an incredibly kind of thoughtful, considerate, affectionate and attentive dad."
Along with directing, Downey Sr. also appeared in movies such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and To Live and Die in L.A. His last film as a director was his 2005 documentary Rittenhouse Square. He last appeared onscreen in 2011's Tower Heist. He is survived by his wife and two children, Downey Jr. and Allyson, both from his first marriage to Elsie Ann Downey.