Remembering B-Movie Icon Roger Corman + Star Tributes

Roger Corman and movie posters collage
Everett Collection; Mark Mainz/Getty Images for AFI

Roger Corman has been called the hero of drive-ins, a B-movie legend, and can be credited with discovering huge stars such as Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro. However, when asked what he’d most like to be remembered for, he simply said “I was a filmmaker.” Corman, who passed away on May 9, 2024, at the age of 98, was most certainly an important filmmaker of our time. He specialized in low-budget films, some of the most famous being Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000, The Trip and House of Usher.

circa 1955: Studio headshot portrait of American film producer, writer and director Roger Corman, mogul of low-budget Hollywood films

THE WILD ANGELS, Roger Corman directing Bruce Dern and Peter Fonda, 1966

Everett Collection

Directing Bruce Dern and Peter Fonda in The Wild Angels


Corman was born in Detroit but grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Beverly Hills High School and Stanford University, where he majored in engineering. Even so, growing up in Los Angeles, he said he was always fascinated by movies. After serving in WWII, he called himself a “bum” as he only took odd jobs. One of those jobs was a script reader which inspired him to write the script for Highway Dragnet, which he sold for only a few thousand dollars.

Producer Roger Corman receives the Auteur Award at the International Press Academy's 14th Annual Satellite Awards on December 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

One of his first movie projects was producing The Monster From the Ocean Floor. After, he struck a deal with American International Pictures (AIP). Corman produced or directed over 30 films for AIP and received a reputation for quick work with a low budget. The films ranged from Westerns to horror and science fiction to teen films. After the success of Little Shop of Horrors in 1960, he convinced the studio to help him with more ambitious projects.

During his career, he also developed a reputation for finding new talents. He gave unknown actors a chance and many turned out to be big stars including Nicholson, De Niro, Ellen Burstyn and directors Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Ron Howard plus many more. He often made cameos in the movies of filmmakers that he helped get their start and in 1998, he received the first-ever Producers Award at the Cannes Film Festival.


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Corman’s final credit was as an executive producer in the 2021 film The Jungle Demon. He will be greatly missed in Hollywood but more so by his family. He is survived by his longtime wife Julie Corman and their children. If you’re interested in learning more about Corman’s life and career, you can find his memoir How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood on Amazon.


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March 2020

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