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Robert Evans, ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Godfather’ producer, dead at 89

Posted: 2:48 PM, Oct 28, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-28 14:48:23-04

Robert Evans, whose charisma rivaled some of the actors who appeared in the hit films he produced, died Saturday, according to his publicist Monique Evans.

Producer Robert Evans arrives at the 2nd Annual Rebels With A Cause Gala at Paramount Studios on March 20, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

He was 89.

As a studio head, Evans helped resurrect Paramount Pictures in the 1960s by bringing such projects as “Chinatown,” “The Godfather” and “Rosemary’s Baby” to the big screen.

Evans seemed to epitomize Hollywood excesses with his seven marriages, outspoken nature and freewheeling lifestyle that he documented in his 1994 memoir, “The Kid Stays in the Picture.” (The book was later developed into a 2002 biopic.)

“There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying,” Evans once famously said. “Memories shared serve each one differently.”

Born in New York City to a dentist and his wife, Evans was a child actor on radio and in the early years of television.

When stardom eluded him, Evans took a job promoting sales for Evan-Picone, a clothing company co-owned by his brother, Charles.

He was working that gig when actress Norma Shearer spotted the good looking Evans at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool.

She successfully lobbied for Evans to portray her late husband, MGM producer Irving Thalberg, in the 1957 Lon Chaney film, “Man of a Thousand Faces.”

He also caught the eye of producer Darryl F. Zanuck, who cast the young actor as the matador Pedro Romero in “The Sun Also Rises,” based on the classic Ernest Hemingway novel.

Evans wrote in his memoir that Hemingway and the cast’s attempt to get him thrown off the picture led to the line he used to title his biography after producer Zanuck declared, “The kid stays in the picture.”