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American B-movie director and producer Roger Corman, best known for churning out hundreds of low-budget films and giving some of Hollywood’s biggest stars their early breaks, has died at the age of 98, US media reported on Saturday. Corman earned a reputation for cultivating Tinseltown’s young talent, helping jumpstart the careers of Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as casting Jack Nicholson in his debut role.

Corman died at his home in Santa Monica, California on Thursday, his family told industry publication Variety. “His films were revolutionary and iconoclastic, and captured the spirit of an age,” the family said in a statement. “When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, just that.’”

Corman specialized in low-budget productions, which often became cult classics, including “The Little Shop of Horrors” and a series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price. “Roger Corman was my very first boss, my lifetime mentor and my hero,” Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd posted on social media platform X, calling him, “one of the greatest visionaries in the history of cinema.”

Director Ron Howard said Corman gave him his first chance at the job when he was just 23 years old. “He launched many careers & quietly lead our industry in important ways,” Howard wrote on X. “Grateful to have known him.” Corman received an honorary Academy Award in 2009. “His legendary ability to stretch a dollar allowed him to swiftly conceive and create period films and sci-fi epics on budgets that wouldn’t cover the food costs on a modern studio shoot,” according to his biography on the Oscars website.

“Through ingenuity, boundless energy and a deep love of movies, Roger Corman has made more of them than just about anyone,” it added. Corman was born in Detroit in 1926 and got his Hollywood start as a messenger for Twentieth Century-Fox before becoming a script reader. As a producer and director, he racked up more than 500 credits, according to movie database IMDB, among them “The Fast and the Furious”, “Grand Theft Auto” and “The Cry Baby Killer”, Nicholson’s big screen debut. — AFP

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