He was outspoken, a philanthropist, and delivered some of the most iconic films of the 80’s and 90’s. He was Joel Schumacher, and Hollywood is better for it.

Written by: Tami Goveia – June 23rd, 2020 7:24pm pst

As a child of the 80’s when you say St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), The Lost Boys (1987), and Flatliners (1990) you’re speaking about wonder-filled memories of films that remain favorites of mine to this day. At the helm of these iconic films was the creative maestro and director Joel Schumacher. Saddened by his passing on Monday after a year-long battle with cancer, we can reflect on the legacy of films he left to the world of cinema. 

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( #RIP ) – Joel Schumacher⁣⁣ ____⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ O diretor Joel Schumacher, ficou conhecido por sucessos como 'O Primeiro Ano do Resto de Nossas Vidas', 'Os Garotos Perdidos', 'Linha Mortal' e 'Um Dia de Fúria'.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ O cineasta nova-iorquino, também dirigiu 'Batman Eternamente' e 'Batman & Robin', filmes polêmicos que dividiram os fãs do herói.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Joel Schumacher morreu aos 80 anos, após uma longa batalha contra o câncer.⁣⁣ ⁣ Descanse em Paz.⁣ ⁣⁣ _____⁣⁣ #joelschumacher #batman #batmanrobin #thelostboys #filmes #cinema #cineasta #filmbuff ⁣#cinema #moviefanatic #moviefans #instacinefilos #cinefilia #80s #90s #pipocando #netflix #amazonprime #bluray #dvdcollector

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Born on August 29th, 1939 in New York City, this child of a working class family began his pursuit in the arts as a student of the Parson School of Design before earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. You would think decorating Henri Bendel’s windows and being inseparable from Halston in the 1960’s would have solidified his trajectory in the fashion world. His storied life in fashion is one where all the pieces seemed to fall seamlessly in place, yet eventually he would walk away. 

“Bendel’s was then the jewel of all stores, probably in America and I’d won every award you could possibly win at Parsons. And I met the whole fashion world, the whole society world, everybody…I knew everybody, including Mrs. Vreeland, who was the high priestess of fashion at Vogue…Then when I got out of [Parsons] art school, Mort Janklow, who is a literary agent, who was then just a great lawyer, made a deal for me with [Revlon founder] Charles Revson — $75,000 a year with perks. I had a car and driver, I had this, I had that. But then, as everyone predicted, I was not meant for Charles Revson or the corporate life…I had no supervision. So I crashed and burned in fashion, which was well deserved, because I hated it.” 

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Halston’s original team (clockwise from left): Joel Schumacher, Joanne Creveling and Frances Stein.

Joel Schumacher was a risk taker, a doer, or as he said, just really good at being himself. He admittedly had a black out from 1965 -1970 due to drugs and alcohol. Convinced his hedonistic lifestyle would literally be the death of him, he planned for his death when AIDS was taking the lives of friends and lovers. Yet, his passions would lead him out of New York and to Los Angeles where his talent in fashion would marry his love for film. In the early 1970’s he started his film career working as a costume designer in films like Herbert Ross’ Play It As It Lays (1972) Woody Allen’s Sleeper, (1973) and Neil Simon’s adaptation, The Prisoner of Second Avenue. (1975) He wrote for television, and cut his teeth as a director in the 1974 TV movie Virginia Hill starring Dyan Cannon and Harvey Keitel.

We know Schumacher’s blockbuster hits as a director, however, his was an unusual recipe for success. Many of his largest grossing films created an almost visceral disdain by critics, but were loved by audiences. St. Elmo’s Fire, starring what Hollywood coined at the time as the “Brat Pack” which included Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, and Ally Sheedy was loathed by critics but a winner with audiences. The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin, was panned by the film community, but loved by movie goers, and Batman Forever, after having the highest grossing opening weekend in history was called “disgraceful.”  

“Because of advice Woody gave me, I didn’t read reviews. But you just knew the audience loved it. I was never out of the box as the critic’s darling.”

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The year was 1995, and while most of the gals in my 5th grade class had princess backpacks, I adorned a leather “Batman Forever” one. It was the coolest thing ever, and I wish I’d held onto it. I’d always been fascinated with the Batman character, and adored the Burton films…so naturally I became totally enamored with B.F. I would draw multiple pics of all the characters, had the action figures, a model car kit of the Batmobile, a Kenner Batmobile, the glass mugs from McD’s, shirts, etc. But most importantly, I had that killer soundtrack. I listened to it all day, everyday that summer. I was constantly glued to MTV and VH1, waiting for those magical videos to appear, so I could see clips from the movie. “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” and of course, “Kiss From A Rose”, were my absolute favorites on that album…🖤🥀 Rest easy, Joel. You had such an amazing impact on my childhood…with not just this film, but another fave of mine, “The Lost Boys”, and so many countless others…🌟🎥🎞 #resteasy #joelschumacher #batmanforever #thankyou

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A career and life is the summation of thousands of moments and choices. Joel Schumacher transcended what was expected of him, and certainly what he thought he was capable of, to create a life both cinematically, and personally that is one for the books.  

“I think I’m one of the luckiest people that ever lived. I got my dream. I got it so much bigger than even I could have dreamed it. You know, I’m just a kid whose parents died very young who was on his own and grew up behind a movie theater before TV, and I wanted to tell those stories, and look what happened.”

Your fire, light, and beauty will be missed, Joel Schumacher. By so many, for so many reasons. 

About The Author:

Tami Goveia is a producer, writer and entertainment host for AfterbuzzTV. Classic film and television are her passion, napping is her indulgence and saving all rescues is her mission.

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