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John Landis Biography, Career, Wife, Awards, Twilight

Who is John Landis?

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John Landis Biography

John Landis is an American film director, comedian, and screenwriter. Besides, he is an actor and producer. Best known for directing comedy films.

His notable films include National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Trading Places (1983), Three Amigos (1986), Coming to America (1988) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994). He is also known for directing Michael Jackson’s music videos for Thriller (1983) and Black or White (1991).

John Landis Age

Landis was born John David Landis. John was born on August 3, 1950, into a Jewish family in Chicago, Illinois. As of 2019, he is 69 years old.

John Landis Family

Landis is the son of Shirley Levine (née Magaziner) and Marshall Landis, an interior designer and decorator. The family relocated to Los Angeles when John was four months old. Landis still refers to Chicago as his hometown although he spent his childhood in California. In addition, he is a big fan of the Chicago White Sox baseball team.

While Landis was a young boy, he watched The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. This inspired him to become a director. Precisely, he was 8 years. He inquired from his mother, who exactly makes moves/films.

John Landis

John Landis Wife| Children| Kids

Landis married Deborah Nadoolman on July 27, 1980. Deborah an Oscar-nominated costume designer, two-term president of the Costume Designers Guild, and director of The David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design at UCLA. The couple has two children: Max and Rachel. They live in Beverly Hills, California.

John Landis Early Career

Landis was a mail boy at 20th Century Fox. This is how he began his film career. Worked as a “go-fer” and then as an assistant director. During filming MGM’s Kelly’s Heroes in Yugoslavia in 1969. John replaced the film’s original assistant director, who became ill and was sent home.

Landis became acquainted with actors Don Rickles and Donald Sutherland. Both of whom would later work in his films. Following Kelly’s Heroes, Landis worked on several films that were shot in Europe. Especially in Italy and England, including Once Upon a Time in the West, El Condor and A Town Called Bastard (a.k.a. A Town Called Hell). John also worked as a stunt double.

John Landis Director

Schlock was Landis debut film as a director. He was 21 years old. The film, which he also wrote and appeared in, is a tribute to monster movies. The gorilla suit for the film was made by Rick Baker. This was the beginning of a long-term collaboration between Landis and Baker. Although complete in 1971, it was not released until 1973.

Schlock was released after it caught the attention of Johnny Carson. Carson was a fan of the film and invited Landis as a guest on The Tonight Show. Thus showing clips from the film and in the process bringing attention to it. Ironically, Schlock has since gained a cult following, but Landis has described the film as “terrible”.

John was then hired to direct The Kentucky Fried Movie. This was after David Zucker saw his Tonight Show appearance. It was inspired by the satirical sketch comedy shows. Like Monty Python, Free the Army, The National Lampoon Radio Hour and Saturday Night Live. Notable for being the first film written by the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker team.

John Landis Peak

Since then, in particular, between  1978–1981, John had a busy and illustrious career. Sean Daniel saw The Kentucky Fried Movie and recommend Landis to direct Animal House based on that.  The film’s success started the gross out film genre. Becoming one of Hollywood’s staples. Interestingly, it also featured the screen debuts of John Belushi, Karen Allen, and Kevin Bacon.

Landis co-wrote and directed The Blues Brothers in 1980. A comedy starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Featuring musical numbers by R&B and soul legends James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. At the time, it was one of the most expensive films ever made, costing almost $30 million.

Landis wrote and directed the comedy-horror An American Werewolf in London in 1981. This was perhaps Landis’s most personal project. He had been planning to make it since 1969, while in Yugoslavia working on Kelly’s Heroes. Of course, it was another commercial success for Landis and inspired studios to put comedic elements in their horror films.

John Landis Twilight Zone Accident| Deaths

Sadly, on July 23, 1982, during the filming of Twilight Zone, an accident happened. Actor Vic Morrow and child extras Myca Dinh Le (age 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6) were killed. The accident involving an out-of-control helicopter. Unfortunately, the three were caught under the aircraft when it crashed. Although, The National Transportation Safety Board reported in October 1984.

John and four other crew members were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Here, the prosecutors attempted to show that Landis was reckless. That he had not told the parents and others of the children’s proximity to explosives and helicopters. Moreover, of limitations on their working hours. Landis admitted that he had violated the California law regulating the employment of children.

Other crew members were later acquitted but Landis was reprimanded. For circumventing the State of California’s child labor laws in hiring the two children. This resulting in stricter safety measures and enforcement of child labor laws in California.

Eventually, the parents of the children sued and settled out of court with the studio for $2 million per family. Morrow’s children, one of them being actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. She was 20 at the time, also settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

John Landis Subsequent film career

Trading Places, a Prince and the Pauper-style comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, was filmed directly after the Twilight Zone accident. After filming ended, Landis and his family went to London.

Next, Landis directed Into the Night, starring Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer and David Bowie. The film was inspired by Hitchcock productions; Landis appeared in the film as an Iranian hitman. To promote the movie, he collaborated with Jeff Okun to direct a documentary film called B.B. King “Into the Night”.

His next film, Spies Like Us, (starring co-writer Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase) was an homage to the Road to … films of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Hope made a cameo in the Landis film, portraying himself.[citation needed]

In 1986 Landis directed Three Amigos, which featured Chevy Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin.

Landis co-directed and produced Amazon Women on the Moon. It is a satirical comedy film that parodies the experience of watching low-budget movies on late-night television.

John Landis In 1990’s

Landis next directed the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America, which was commercially successful. It was also the subject of Buchwald v. Paramount, a civil suit filed by Art Buchwald in 1990 against the film’s producers. Buchwald claimed that the concept for the film had been stolen from a 1982 script that Paramount optioned from Buchwald who won the breach of contract action.

In 1991 he directed Sylvester Stallone in Oscar, based on a Claude Magnier stage play. Oscar recreates a 1930 era film, including the gestures along with bit acts and with some slapstick, as an homage to old Hollywood films. The following year, 1992, Landis directed Innocent Blood, a horror-crime film.

In 1994, Landis directed Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop III. They had previously worked together on Trading Places and Coming to America. Two years later, in 1996, he directed The Stupids. Then he returned to Universal to direct Blues Brothers 2000 in 1998 with John Goodman and, for the fifth time in a Landis film, Dan Aykroyd: during that same year, he directed Susan’s Plan. The four movies did not score with critics and audiences.

Burke and Hare was released in 2010, Landis’s first theatrical release for over a decade.

In August 2011, Landis said he would return to horror and would be writing a new film. He was the executive producer on the comedy horror film Some Guy Who Kills People.

John Landis Music Videos

Landis has directed several music videos. He was approached by Michael Jackson to make a video for his song, Thriller. The resulting video significantly impacted MTV. Subsequently, the concept of music videos; it has won numerous awards, including the Video Vanguard Award for The Greatest Video in the History of the World. Landis collaborated again with Michael Jackson on the music video for the song Black or White in 1991.

In 2009 (months before Jackson died), Landis sued the Jackson estate in a dispute over royalties for the video; he claimed to be owed at least four years’ worth of royalties.

John Landis Television

Landis has been active in television as the executive producer (and often director) of the series Dream On (1990), Weird Science (1994), Sliders (1995), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show (1997), Campus Cops (1995), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1998), Masters of Horror, and various episodes of Psych. He also made commercials for DirecTV, Taco Bell, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kellogg’s, and Disney. In 2011 he made an appearance in Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s television series Psychoville.

John Landis Documentaries

Landis made his first documentary, Coming Soon in 1982; it was only released on VHS. Next, he co-directed B.B. King “Into the Night” (1985) and in 2002 directed Where Are They Now?: A Delta Alumni Update, which can be seen as a part of the Animal House DVD extras.

Initially, his documentaries were only made to promote his feature films. Later in his career, he became more serious about the oeuvre and made Slasher (2004), Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007) and Starz Inside: Ladies or Gentlemen (2009). These documentaries were filmed for television; Landis won a 2008 Emmy Award for Mr. Warmth. He worked on the Making of Thriller, which was filmed in 3-D. Landis appeared in the Spanish documentary The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry, which covered the career of Spanish movie director Paul Naschy.

John Landis Archive

The moving image collection of Landis is held at the Academy Film Archive.

John Landis Wins

  • 1982 – Fantafestival Award for Best Film (Schlock)
  • 1985 – Cognac Festival du Film Policier Award for Special Jury Prize (Into the Night)
  • 1988 – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture (Coming to America)
  • 1992 – CableACE Award for Comedy Series (Dream On)
  • 2004 – Phoenix Film Festival Award for (Cooper Wing Tribute Award)
  • 2004 – Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival Award for (Time-Machine Honorary Award)
  • 2008 – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special (Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project)
  • 2010 – Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival Award (Career Award)
  • 2015 – Amiens International Film Festival Award for Golden Unicorn (Career Achievement)
  • 2017 – Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival Award for (Comedy Legend Award)

John Landis Nominations

  • 1982 – Saturn Award for Best Writing (An American Werewolf in London)
  • 1984 – CableACE Award for Documentary Special (The Making of ‘Thriller’)
  • 1984 – Fantasporto Award for International Fantasy Film Award (Twilight Zone: The Movie)
  • 1984 – Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Award for Best Foreign Director (Trading Places)
  • 1991 – CableACE Award for Comedy Series (Dream On)
  • 1992 – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director (Oscar)
  • 1993 – CableACE Award for Comedy Series (Dream On)
  • 1994 – CableACE Award for Comedy Series (Dream On)
  • 1995 – CableACE Award for Comedy Series (Dream On)
  • 1995 – Cable ACE Award for Directing a Comedy Series (“The Courtship of Martin’s Father”) (Dream On)
  • 1995 – CableACE Award for Comedy Series (Dream On)
  • 1995 – CableACE Award for Directing a Comedy Series (“Off-Off Broadway Bound”) (Dream On)
  • 1995 – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director (Beverly Hills Cop III)
  • 1997 – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director (The Stupids)
  • 2012 – Rond0 Hatton Classic Horror Award for Best Film (Burke and Hare)

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