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Robert Downey Sr.

Actor / Film Director / Screenwriter / Camera Operator / Film Producer / Cinematographer | * 06/01/1936 (83) | New York, New York
Robert John Downey Sr. (born Robert Elias Jr.; June 24, 1936) is a retired American actor, director, producer, writer and cinematographer and the father of actor Robert Downey Jr. He is known for writing and directing the underground film Putney Swope, a satire on the New York Madison Avenue advertising world. According to film scholar Wheeler Winston Dixon, Downey Sr.'s films during the 1960s were "strictly take-no-prisoners affairs, with minimal budgets and outrageous satire, effectively pushing forward the countercultural agenda of the day." ()
Photo of Robert Downey Sr.

Robert John Downey Sr. (né Robert Elias Jr.) is an American filmmaker, director and writer. 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. According to film scholar Wheeler Winston Dixon, Downey's films during the 1960s were "strictly take-no-prisoners affairs, with minimal budgets and outrageous satire, effectively pushing forward the countercultural agenda of the day." Downey was born in New York City, the son of Elizabeth (née McLauchlen), a model, and Robert Elias Sr., who worked in management of motels and restaurants. His paternal grandparents were Lithuanian Jews, while his mother was of half Irish and half Hungarian Jewish ancestry. Downey was born Robert Elias; but he 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. Robert Downey Sr. initially made his mark creating basement budget, independent films aligning with the Absurdist movement, coming of age in counterculture anti-establishment 1960s America. His work in the late 1960s and 70s was quintessential anti-establishment, reflecting the nonconformity popularized by larger counterculture movements and given impetus by new freedoms in filmmaking, such as the breakdown of Codes on censorship. In keeping with the underground tradition, his 1960s films were independently made on shoestring budgets and were relatively obscure in the Absurdist movement, finding cult notoriety. In 1961, working with the film editor Fred von Bernewitz, he began writing and directing low-budget 16mm films that 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's films were often family affairs. His first wife, Elsie, appears in four of his movies, as well as co-writing one. 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. Robert Jr.'s lengthy acting résumé includes appearances in eight films directed by his father, as well as two acting appearances in movies where his father was also an actor (Johnny Be Good, Hail Caesar). Downey has been married three times.

Most frequent genres for this person: Comedies | Drama | Documentaries

Known for these Movies & Shows


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Movies with Robert Downey Sr. as Actor(21)

as Himself (archive footage) (as Robert Downey)2015 Don't Blink: Robert Frank
as himself2012 Radio Unnameable
as himself2012 Pablo
as Judge Ramos2011 Tower Heist
as Interviewer2005 Rittenhouse Square
as Crew Member Cameo1999 Magnolia
as Studio owner1997 Boogie Nights
as Telephone Voices1996 The Sunchaser
as Butler1994 Hail Caesar
as himself1993 The Last Party
as NCAA Investigator1988 Johnny Be Good
as Weinberg1988 Moving Target
as Paulie Hackley1986 America
as Thomas Bateman1985 To Live and Die in L.A.
as Putney Swope (voice)1969 Putney Swope
as Pvt. Stewart Thompson1968 No More Excuses

TV Shows/Series with Robert Downey Sr. as Actor(2)

Movies with Robert Downey Sr. as Crew(35)

Directing/Director2005 A Touch of Greatness
Directing/Director2005 Rittenhouse Square
Directing/Director1997 Hugo Pool
Writing/Writer1997 Hugo Pool
Directing/Director1990 Too Much Sun
Writing/Writer1990 Too Much Sun
Directing/Director1988 Rented Lips
Directing/Director1986 America
Writing/Writer1980 The Gong Show Movie
Directing/Director1980 Up the Academy
Directing/Director1973 Sticks and Bones
Writing/Writer1973 Sticks and Bones
Directing/Director1972 Greaser's Palace
Writing/Screenplay1972 Greaser's Palace
Directing/Director1970 Pound
Writing/Writer1970 Pound
Directing/Director1969 Putney Swope
Writing/Writer1969 Putney Swope
Production/Producer1969 Putney Swope
Directing/Director1968 No More Excuses
Writing/Writer1968 No More Excuses
Directing/Director1966 Chafed Elbows
Writing/Writer1966 Chafed Elbows
Production/Producer1966 Chafed Elbows
Directing/Director1965 Sweet Smell of Sex
Crew/Cinematography1965 Sweet Smell of Sex
Directing/Director1964 Babo 73
Writing/Writer1964 Babo 73
Production/Producer1964 Babo 73
Directing/Director1961 Balls Bluff
Writing/Writer1961 Balls Bluff
Production/Producer1961 Balls Bluff

Born: Monday, 06/01 1936 (June) in New York City (current age: 83 years + 45 days)
Zodiac sign: Gemini (Chinese zodiac sign: Rat)
Other names for Robert Downey Sr. (nicknames, foreign languages etc.):
"Robert Downey senior"
Robert Downey Sr. frequently works together with these people:
Robert Downey Jr. (9x, Actor)
Lawrence Wolf (7x, Cast)
Elsie Downey (6x, Actress)
Tom O'Horgan (5x, Crew)
Chuck Barris (4x, Actor)
Milo Drago (4x, Crew)
Jack Nitzsche (3x, Crew)
Alan Abel (3x, Cast)
James Cromwell (2x, Actor)
Piper Laurie (2x, Actress)
WatchPlayStream ID: PEOPLE:28169, Added: 05/08/2018, Last updated: 07/01/2019