Goodbye, Curtis Hanson

Curtis Hanson, the Oscar-winning director of films including L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile, and In Her Shoes, has died. He was 71 years old.

Hanson was born March 24, 1945 in Reno, Nevada but grew up in Los Angeles. After dropping out of high school, he pursued opportunities as a freelance photographer and editor of the now-defunct Cinema magazine before turning to screenwriting, which bore fruit with 1970's The Dunwich Horror, a Roger Corman-produced fright film that he co-wrote with Henry Rosenbaum and Ronald Silkosky.

Hanson subsequently moved to directing with Sweet Kill, a 1973 horror film about a sexually-repressed man who finds gratification in murdering the women he sleeps with. That was followed by a string of other low-budget efforts in multiple genres, including Losin' It, a teen comedy starring a pre-Risky Business Tom Cruise. 

Though he worked consistently through the '70s and '80s, Hanson wouldn't achieve mainstream recognition until 1992's The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, a thriller starring Rebecca De Mornay that became a surprise hit on release, grossing $88 million in North America. This served as a springboard for the writer-director into higher-gloss projects, and in 1997 he achieved his career pinnacle with L.A. Confidential, an adaptation of the hard-boiled James Ellroy novel that was nominated for a tnine Oscars and netted he and co-screenwriter Brian Helgeland an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Post-L.A. Confidential, Hanson continued working steadily and often to great acclaim, and in 2002, he enjoyed his biggest hit to date with 8 Mile, which starred rapper Eminem as a version of himself and went on to gross over $240 million worldwide. Other late-career credits include the critically-lauded Michael Chabon adaptation Wonder Boys, In Her Shoes starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley Maclaine and Lucky You, a poker drama starring Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana. 

Due to ailing health, Hanson's last credited film as director, 2012's Chasing Mavericks starring Gerard Butler, was completed by director Michael Apted. According to his business manager Julie Mann, who spoke with the New York Times, he suffered from a form of dementia the last few years of his life.

Hanson is survived by his mother Beverly June Hanson, his brother Woody, his longtime partner Rebecca Yeldham, and their son Rio.