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'Soylent Green' Director Richard Fleischer


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'Soylent Green' Director Richard Fleischer

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Richard Fleischer

LOS ANGELES, California - Richard Fleischer, who directed several memorable films from sci-fi classics such as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to war movies as "Tora! Tora! Tora!" has died. He was 89. Fleischer died Saturday, March 25 of natural causes at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, said his son, Mark.

Mark Fleischer said he remembered his father as a gentle man who always put family first. "My parents made a great effort to insulate their children from the craziness of Hollywood," he said. "They made sure our lives were as normal as possible."

The director's father, Max Fleischer, and his uncles Dave and Louis, pioneered animated shorts in New York, starting in 1920 with the innovative "Out of the Inkwell" series. In the 1930s, they became rivals to Walt Disney with their popular Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor comedy shorts. Richard Fleischer was considered a quiet-spoken but firm-minded director.

Richard Fleischer never achieved the recognition of his more flamboyant contemporaries, but his name was on a wide variety of well-known films, including 1966's "Fantastic Voyage," 1967's "Doctor Dolittle," 1968's "The Boston Strangler," 1969's "Che!," 1972's "The New Centurions," 1973's "Soylent Green," 1974's "Mr. Majestyk" and 1975's "Mandingo."

Fleischer directed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1984's "Conan the Destroyer" and 1985's "Red Sonja." Schwarzenegger, who starred in "Conan the Destroyer," praised Fleischer as "a true Hollywood legend." In a statement, Schwarzenegger said, "He was a man of great talent and an extraordinary director who leaves behind a legacy of amazing films."

In addition to his son Mark, Fleischer is survived by his wife of 62 years; another son, Bruce; a daughter, Jane and five grandchildren. Instead of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be sent to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

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