'The Silence of the Lambs' director Jonathan Demme no more

Filmmaker Jonathan Demme, whose Oscar-winning thriller "The Silence of the Lambs" terrified audiences and introduced one of the most indelible villains in movie history, died Wednesday morning in NY.

He had been suffering from oesophageal cancer, and died surrounded by his wife and three children at his apartment in NY.

Demme was born in Baldwin, Long Island, and, like so many other great filmmakers, got his start in the business under the wing of Roger Corman, for whom he directed low-budget exploitation flicks like Caged Heat and Fighting Mad while learning his craft.

Demme was best known for directing The Silence Of The Lambs, the 1991 horror-thriller which starred Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster as rookie Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Clarice Starling.

The movie won five Academy Awards, including best picture, best actor for Hopkins and best actress for Foster.

In the 1980s, Demme dabbled in a variety of forms, making a mark in documentary filmmaking - particularly with Stop Making Sense, a seminal 1984 concert film for the Talking Heads - and in comedy with films such as Something Wild and the gangster spoof Married to the Mob.

Demme previous year released his latest concert film, "Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids", on Netflix.

"He loved people, he loved filming them; I am so sad to hear he s gone", Hitchcock wrote on Twitter. The director also had an art-house darling with 2008's Rachel Getting Married, which garnered an Academy Award nomination for star Anne Hathaway.

The producers of “Shots Fired” Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood wrote, “We mourn the passing of Jonathan Demme.

"He died from complications from oesophageal cancer. and is survived by his children Ramona, age 29, and her husband James Molloy, Brooklyn, age 26, and Jos, age 21".

The filmmaker's last movie was a documentary about the singer, entitled Justin Timberlake And The Tennessee Kids. I also loved him as a friend, and to me he was always young.

Hanks called him "the grandest of men".

His early comedies delved deeply into the humanity the director would come to make the central focus of everything he did. His family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Americans for Immigrant Justice.

"I've always followed my enthusiasm", Demme said of the variety in his career. May you Rest In Peace. It was also the film that was responsible for Tom Hanks winning his first Oscar for playing a gay lawyer.

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