Born in 1940, writer/director Brian De Palma’s career began to take off in the 1970s with the horror classic Carrie, based on a Stephen King novel. Often compared to the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, De Palma has helmed numerous thrillers, such as Dressed to Kill (1980) and Body Double (1984). He has also created one of the organized crime classics of all time, Scarface (1983).
Film director, screenwriter. Born on September 11, 1940, in Newark, New Jersey. De Palma attended Columbia University in New York, New York. He made his first film, Icarus, as a student there. After De Palma graduated in 1962, he spent time at Sarah Lawrence College on a writing fellowship. In the mid-1960s De Palma began working on his feature-length debut with The Wedding Party, which co-wrote and co-directed with Wilford Leach and Cynthia Munroe. The film was released in 1969 and featured an up-and-coming actor named Robert De Niro.
De Palma’s career really began to take off in the 1970s with the horror classic Carrie, based on a Stephen King novel. Sissy Spacek starred as an often overlooked and mistreated teen with special powers who takes her revenge on those who harmed her. Often compared to the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, De Palma has helmed numerous thrillers, such as Dressed to Kill (1980) and Body Double (1984). He has also created one of the organized crime classics of all time, Scarface (1983). Al Pacino stars as a Cuban who immigrates to Miami in the 1980s and becomes the leader of a drug cartel. Audiences were riveted by the rise and fall of Pacino’s character as well as the film’s graphic depiction of violence and drug use.
The 1980s was a time of mixed success for De Palma. He scored a box office hit with organized crime-busting drama The Untouchables. Released in 1987, the film starred Kevin Costner as federal agent Eliot Ness who wants to take down Al Capone, the crime kingpin of Chicago, played by Robert De Niro. Two years later, De Palma’s next directorial effort, Casualties of War, failed to register with movie audiences. But this was nothing compared to the critical drubbing he received for Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), an adaptation of the Tom Wolfe novel.
De Palma has experienced many twists and turns in his career, with several hits and misses over the past two decades. He directed the well-received Carlito’s Way (1993) and the mainstream action hit Mission: Impossible (1996). Snake Eyes (1998), Mission to Mars (2000), and Femme Fatale (2002) all failed to catch on with the movie-going public. His latest film, The Black Dahlia, was based on the James Ellroy novel about the infamous murder of an aspiring actress in Hollywood during the 1940s. While a lot of publicity surrounded its release in 2006, the film received mixed reviews and had fair ticket sales.
Married and divorced three times, De Palma’s first wife was actress Nancy Allen. He has two daughters: Lolita, from his second marriage to producer Gale Anne Hurd, and Piper, from his third marriage to Darnell Gregorio-De Palma.
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