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Robert Downey, Sr.
Born Robert John Elias
(1935-06-24) June 24, 1935 (age 77)
Occupation Director, actor, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer
Years active 1961–present
Influenced by Federico Fellini,
Influenced Paul Thomas Anderson,
Spouse(s) Elsie Ford (div. 1975)
Laura Elizabeth Ernst (1991–1994; her death)
Rosemary Rogers (1998–present)
Children Robert Downey, Jr.,
Robert John Downey, Sr. (born Robert John Elias; June 24, 1935) is an American actor, writer, and film director, and the father of actor Robert Downey Jr. He is best known as an underground filmmaker, serving as director and/or writer of such cult classics as Putney Swope, a satire on the New York Madison Avenue advertising world.
His father, Robert Elias, was of Russian Jewish descent, and his mother, Betty McLoughlin, was of Irish Catholic background. Downey was born Robert Elias, but changed his last name to Downey for his stepfather, James Downey, when he wanted to enlist in the United States Army but was underage at the time.
Downey has been married three times. His first marriage was to actress Elsie Downey (née Ford), with whom he had two children: actress/writer Allyson Downey and actor Robert Downey, Jr. The marriage ended in divorce in 1975. Downey Sr.'s second marriage, to actress-writer Laura Ernst, ended with her 1994 death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. He currently lives in New York City with his third wife, Rosemary Rogers, whom he married in 1998.
By the age of 22, Downey had served in the Army, played semi-pro baseball, become a Golden Gloves boxing champion, and an Off-Off-Broadway playwright. In 1961, working with the film editor Fred von Bernewitz, he began writing and directing low-budget 16mm films which gained an underground following, beginning with Ball's Bluff (1961), a fantasy short about a Civil War soldier who awakens in Central Park in 1961. He moved into big-budget filmmaking with the surrealistic Greaser's Palace (1972). His most recent film was Rittenhouse Square (2005), a documentary capturing life in a Philadelphia park.
Downey Sr.'s movies were often family affairs. His first wife, Elsie, appears in four of his movies (Chafed Elbows, Pound, Greaser's Palace, Moment to Moment) as well as co-writing one (Moment to Moment). Daughter Allyson and son Robert Jr. each made their film debuts in the 1970 absurdist comedy Pound at the ages of 7 and 5, respectively; Allyson would appear in one more film by her father, Up the Academy. Robert Downey Jr.'s lengthy acting resume includes appearances in eight films directed by his father (Pound, Greaser's Palace, Moment to Moment, Up the Academy, America, Rented Lips, Too Much Sun, Hugo Pool) as well as two acting appearances in movies where his father was also an actor (Johnny Be Good, Hail Caesar).
Balls Bluff (1961) (short film)
A Touch of Greatness (1964)
Babo 73 (1964)
Sweet Smell of Sex (1965)
Chafed Elbows (1966)
No More Excuses (1968)
Putney Swope (1969)
Greaser's Palace (1972)
Sticks and Bones (1973)
Moment to Moment (retitled Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight) (1975)
Up the Academy (1980)
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) (actor, credited as Robert Downey)
Rented Lips (1988)
Johnny Be Good (1988) (actor)
Too Much Sun (1991)
Hail Caesar (1994) (actor)
Hugo Pool (1997)
Boogie Nights (1997) (actor)
The Family Man (2000) (actor)
Rittenhouse Square (2005)
Tower Heist (2011) (actor)
1. "Interviews From Post Script". http://www.scribd.com. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
2. Robert Downey Jr. – Inside The Actors Studio Pt. 1. youtube.com
3. Interfaith Celebrities: On Jake Gyllenhaal's Jewish-ishness and Robert Downey Jr. the Jubu. interfaithfamily.com
4. Daisy Fried (May 1, 1997). "Senior Class". Philadelphia City Paper. Retrieved June 17, 2008.
5. Jamie Diamond (December 20, 1992). "Robert Downey Jr. Is Chaplin (on Screen) and a Child (Off)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2008.
6. Top 100 Irish America's Finest in Dance • Music • Acting. irishabroad.com
7. Diamond, Jamie. (December 20, 1992). "FILM; Robert Downey Jr. Is Chaplin (on Screen) and a Child (Off)". New York Times.
8. "Rosemary Rogers, Robert Downey". New York Times. May 10, 1998. Retrieved August 1, 2008.
9. Fulton, Rick. (October 27, 2010). "Daily Record interview; robert-downey-jr-i-don-t-even-know-what-it-s-like-to-be-stoned-any-more". Daily Record.
10. Vincent Canby. "Review: Greaser's Palace". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2008.
11. "IMDb Credits List for Elsie Downey". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
12. "IMDb Credits List for Allyson Downey". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
13. "IMDb Credits List for Robert Downey, Jr.". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 6, 2011.