“Robert Evans, the Paramount executive who produced “Chinatown’ and ‘Urban Cowboy,’ and whose life became as melodramatic and jaw-dropping as any of his films, died on Saturday night,” write Richard Natale and Carmel Dagan in Variety, adding, “He was 89.”
The story continues, “Even though Hollywood history is filled with colorful characters, few can match the tale of Evans, whose life would seem far-fetched if it were fiction. With his matinee-idol looks, but little acting talent, Evans was given starring roles in a few movies and then, with no studio experience, was handed the production reins at Paramount in the 1960s. When he left the exec ranks, his first film as a producer was the classic ‘Chinatown’, and he followed with other hits, like ‘Marathon Man’ and “Urban Cowboy.” Eventually, his distinctive look and speaking style turned him into a cult figure, and he had the distinction of being the only film executive who starred in his own animated TV series.”
Writes Brooks Barnes in The New York Times obituary of Evans, “A women’s pants salesman comes to Hollywood and jumps into the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel, drawing the attention of an A-list actress. With her help, he begins an acting career, which leads lickety-split to the top job at Paramount Pictures. He helps deliver masterworks like ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Chinatown.’ A cocaine blizzard, legal spats and financial ruin come next. In the final reel, a comeback.
“If a screenwriter had invented Robert Evans, the script would have been tossed on the rejection pile as too tall a tale. But Mr. Evans, who died on Saturday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., was living proof that, at least in Hollywood, truth can still be stranger than fiction.”
Here’s a 45-minute 2017 interview of Evans by director Wes Anderson that we found on YouTube: