director, producer, screenwriter, actor
It's hard to know how Hollywood could have survived without Corman. Hailed as “The king of the B movies,” his legacy is not so much his oeuvre as his influence. As a director in the 1950s and '60s he gave career breaks to such luminaries as Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, and Robert DeNiro. His own movies are mostly memorable for their titles—It Conquered the World (1956), The Wasp Woman (1960)—but the genre, invented by and defined by Corman as “being about something wild with a great deal of action,” later gained respectability with Spielberg and Lucas. Corman's equal measures of gore and irony in such, well, masterpieces as Bucket of Blood and Little Shop of Horrors have influenced the pop aesthetic apparent in Tarantino and David Lynch. In 1970, Corman retired from directing and founded New World Pictures, which released foreign movies (Amarcord, Cries and Whispers, Fitzcarraldo) for a time. Corman also appeared in The Godfather II, Apollo 13, and The Silence of the Lambs.