Best Known For
A successful director, John Landis is best known for his comedies, which include National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers and Trading Places.
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For Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), which was inspired by the Rod Sterling television series, he wrote and directed one of the film's four segments and its prologue. His story focused on a big-mouthed bigot (played by Vic Morrow) who is forced to face his prejudices through a series of experiences that transport him to Nazi Germany, the Deep South and Vietnam.
While filming the Vietnam scenes,
Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed after a helicopter crashed on top of them. Landis and several other members of the production were later charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to these deaths. In the subsequent trial, they were all found not guilty. The families of the slain actors all filed wrongful death suits, which were settled out of court.
While his reputation was somewhat sullied by the tragedy, Landis continued to find success on the big screen. He directed Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in the hit comedy Trading Places (1983). That same year, Landis surprised many by directing Michael Jackson's video for "Thriller." Both the song and the video became popular worldwide.
While the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America (1988) did well, Landis scored a number of misses during the 1980s and 1990s. He directed the lackluster sequel Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) and returned to territory with Blues Brothers 2000 (1998). With Belushi having died years earlier, the film featured Dan Aykroyd as the sole Blues brother.
Branching out into television, Landis helped create the HBO comedy Dream On starring Brian Benben in the early 1990s and even directed some of its episodes. He also served as executive producer for the comedy series' Weird Science and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, both based on hit films.
More recently, Landis has directed episodes of such television shows as Psych, Masters of Horror and Fear Itself. He also directed the 2007 documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project. In terms of feature films, Landis has been associated with a number of projects in recent years, including a big screen adaptation of Bat Boy: The Musical.
Landis has been married to costume designer Deborah Nadoolman since 1980. The couple has two children, Rachel and Max.
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