Robert Downey, Sr.
Date of Birth
Jun 01, 1936
Birth Place:
Tennessee

Biography

American director Robert Downey served in the Army, pitched in semi-pro baseball and became an actor, all before he was 25 years old. In 1963, he began directing basement-budgeted absurdist films which gained a following in the "underground" cinema circuit: Babo 73 (1963), Chafed Elbows (1965) and No More Excuses (1968). Putney Swope (1969) was the first Downey-directed film to earn a mainstream release; a devastating satire of Madison Avenue, Putney explored the possibilities of an African-American activist given carte blanche at an advertising agency. The commercial parodies contained in the film were so "right on" (to use the vernacular of the era) that some impressionable reviewers assumed that Downey himself was black. The director thrived in the laissez-faire film world of the '70s with such irreverent films as Pound (1970), wherein humans (successfully) behaved like dogs for 90 minutes, and Greaser's Palace (1972), an outrageous restaging of the life of Christ in "spaghetti western" terms. He also continued his erstwhile acting career with appearances in films like Is There Sex After Death? (1971). Downey's take-no-prisoners sense of humor didn't mesh well with the comic attitudes of others, as witness Up the Academy (1980), a failed attempt by Mad magazine to emulate the National Lampoon movies. Thus Downey entered the '90s marching to his own beat again, making films exclusively for his specialized audience. Robert Downey is the father of actor Robert Downey Jr., who made his own film debut at age five in his dad's Pound. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Provided by Rovi