Tony Richardson dies
By the time of his death in 1991, Tony Richardson was perhaps as well-known for being the one-time husband of Vanessa Redgrave and the father of Natasha Richardson as he was for being an Academy Award-winning film director. Indeed some tabloids focused on the manner of his death, that being from AIDS at age 63, by slinging out headlines like “Secret Shame,” rather than highlighting the depth of his achievement in life. The only son of a chemist, Richardson was not raised in a theatrical family. But in high school, and then later at Oxford, he found in a drama a natural outlet for his talents. His unique productions in college gained him a position at the BBC, which pushed him in the direction of television and films. From the start, Richardson had a knack for channeling the creative zeitgeist of his times. In the mid fifties, he helped form the Free Cinema movement with Sight and Sound editors (and later filmmakers) Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz, after which he connected with the Angry Young Men school of drama, working closely with playwright John Osborne on the films Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer. Later, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and A Taste of Honey were held up as examples of the tough social realism of the Kitchen Sink school. But just as Richardson became known for presenting a raw, unflinching look at contemporary Britain, he made Tom Jones, a sexy, colorful adaptation of Henry Fielding’s great 18th century comic novel, for which he received a best director Oscar, while the film won Best Picture. Richardson’s work––36 stage plays, 20 films and 44 television drama––continued to defy expectation, even up to his last film, a surprising military drama called Blue Sky (with Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange), which was released several years after his death.