Oscar best director Michael Cimino dies at age 77

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2016-07-04 14:37:13

Michael Cimino, Oscar best director winner for his seminal Vietnam War drama "The Deer Hunter," has died at the age of 77 in Los Angeles.

His body was found by police Saturday at his home after friends said they were unable to reach him by phone.

According to the Los Angeles County Coroner's website, Cimino died on Thursday at his residence, but the office didn't give the reason of death, pending further investigation.

Cimino was born in New York City on Feb. 3, 1939. He directed eight films in his career.

In 1979, Cimino won an Oscar and a Golden Globe best director award for "The Deer Hunter," which also won four other Oscars including Best Picture.

The story of the Vietnam War's effect on a small steel-working town in Pennsylvania helped elevate Robert De Niro and Meryl Steep to superstar status, while Christopher Walken also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

The powerful film in 1978 made Cimino one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood. But his next project "Heaven's Gate" gave a U-turn to his career. The epic Western morality tale released in 1980 by United Artists was more than three times over its budget.

The film became synonymous with over-budget and out-of-control productions that nearly bankrupted the studio. It flopped and tarnished Cimino's reputation in the process.

Some film makers expressed their appreciation for Cimino after he passed away.

"Our work together is something I will always remember. He will be missed," De Niro said in a statement Saturday.

"I wish I had paid tribute to Michael Cimino while he was alive," tweeted William Friedkin, who directed the landmark 1970s films "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist." "He was an important and masterful film maker. We will always have his work."

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