Alan Parker, a successful and sometimes surprising filmmaker whose diverse output includes Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, and Evita, has died at 76, his family said. A Briton who became a Hollywood heavyweight, Parker also directed Fame, The Commitments, and Mississippi Burning. Together his movies won 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Film Awards, per the AP. The director's family said he died Friday in London after a long illness. Parker was born in London in 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 director of commercials. He moved into television with the critically acclaimed 1974 drama The Evacuees, which won an international Emmy Award.
The next year he wrote and directed his first feature, Bugsy Malone, an unusual, exuberant musical pastiche of gangster films with a cast of children, including a young Jodie Foster. He followed that with the 1978 feature Midnight Express, the reality-based story of an American’s harrowing incarceration in a Turkish prison for alleged drug offenses. It won two Oscars—including one for Oliver Stone's script—and gained Parker the first of two best-director nominations. Parker ranged widely across subjects and genres. While Shoot the Moon (1982) and Angela's Ashes (1999) were family dramas, Angel Heart (1987) was an occult thriller and Mississippi Burning (1988) was a powerful civil rights drama that was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best director.
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