Date Of Birth:
21 February 1933
Date Of Death:
23 July 2022
Place Of Birth:
New York City, New York
Bob Rafelson made his name one of the great filmmakers of the 1970s, thanks in part to his success as co-creator of the Monkees. After graduating from Dartmouth College and serving in the U.S. Army, Rafelson wound up in Los Angeles in 1962 working as a story editor for television. He and partner Bert Schneider started a production company in 1965, and their hit TV show The Monkees (1966-68) made them enough money to embarked on producing films, including Easy Rider (1969, directed by Dennis Hopper) and The Last Picture Show (1971, directed by Peter Bogdanovich), both critical and box office sensations. Rafelson’s directorial debut was Head (1968) a meandering “adventure” starring the Monkees and co-written with Jack Nicholson, then an unknown actor. Head was a flop, but Five Easy Pieces (1970) was a hit that brought Rafelson and Nicholson Oscar nominations. They teamed together again for The King of Marvin Gardens (1972, with Bruce Dern), which split the critics but made money at the box office. Rafelson became known for his low budgets, great acting and intimate character portrayals, but response was tepid for Stay Hungry (1976, starring Jeff Bridges), and critics were sour over The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981, with Nicholson and Jessica Lange). It’s said Rafelson was not one to work within the studio system, a true believer in the auteur theory of filmmaking and in need of complete control. He was famously fired after only a few days working as the director-for-hire of the Robert Redford film Brubaker (1980). Rafelson made half a dozen more movies, but none got the attention of his early work (although 1992’s Man Trouble set tongues wagging because it was so terrible). His other films include Black Widow (1987, starring Debra Winger), Mountains of the Moon (1990), Blood and Wine (1996) and No Good Deed (2002).
Bob Rafelson directed the official video for the Lionel Richie song, “All Night Long” (1983).
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