Robert Downey Sr Imdb

Summary: Robert Downey Sr. was an American filmmaker, writer, and actor who was an influential figure in the world of independent cinema. He is best known for his low-budget, underground films from the 1960s and 1970s.

1. Early Life and Career

Robert Downey Sr. was born on June 24, 1936 in New York City. He grew up in Greenwich Village and attended high school in the Bronx. After completing a stint in the military, he returned to New York and began pursuing a career in entertainment. He started out as a stand-up comedian, performing at clubs around the city.

In the early 1960s, Downey turned his attention to filmmaking. He began making short experimental films that explored unconventional themes and techniques. His early work was heavily influenced by the Beat Generation writers and the French New Wave filmmakers.

Downey’s breakthrough came in 1969 with the release of his first feature film, “Putney Swope.” The movie, which satirized the world of advertising, was a critical and commercial success. It established Downey as one of the leading voices in the emerging world of independent cinema.

2. Filmography

Over the course of his career, Robert Downey Sr. directed more than 20 feature films and numerous shorts. His films were known for their unconventional storytelling, offbeat humor, and social commentary. Some of his most notable works include:

“Babo 73” (1964): A spoof of documentary films that follows a group of beatniks as they try to overthrow the government.

“Chafed Elbows” (1966): A surrealistic look at life in New York City that uses a combination of live action and animation.

“Greaser’s Palace” (1972): A religious allegory that retells the story of Jesus Christ in a Western setting.

3. Influence on Independent Cinema

Robert Downey Sr. was a pioneering figure in the world of independent cinema. His low-budget, underground films paved the way for future generations of filmmakers who wanted to tell unconventional stories outside of the mainstream Hollywood system.

Downey’s work was influential not only because of its content, but also because of its artistic approach. He experimented with different filmmaking techniques, such as montage, jump cuts, and handheld cameras, that challenged traditional notions of storytelling.

Many of the most respected directors of the last few decades have cited Downey as an influence on their own work. Filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Jim Jarmusch have all spoken about the impact that Downey’s films had on their development as artists.

4. Acting Career

In addition to his work behind the camera, Robert Downey Sr. was also an accomplished actor. He appeared in many of his own films, as well as in movies by other filmmakers. He often played quirky character roles that showcased his offbeat sense of humor and unconventional approach to acting.

Some of his most notable acting credits include:

“Putney Swope” (1969): In this film, Downey played the title character, a black executive who takes over a white-owned advertising agency and transforms it into a protest movement.

“Boogie Nights” (1997): Downey played a small but memorable role as the manager of a nightclub where pornographic films are screened.

“Magnolia” (1999): Downey played the game show host for “What Do Kids Know?”, a fictional game show that plays a key role in the film’s plot.

5. Later Years and Legacy

In his later years, Robert Downey Sr. continued to make films and work in the entertainment industry. Although he never achieved the mainstream success of some of his contemporaries, he remained an influential figure in the world of independent cinema.

Downey passed away on July 7, 2021 at the age of 85. He is survived by his wife, Rosemary Rogers, and his son, actor Robert Downey Jr. Although he may not be as well-known as some of the other figures in the entertainment industry, his impact on cinema and popular culture cannot be overstated.


Robert Downey Sr. was a true pioneer in the world of independent cinema. His low-budget, underground films challenged conventional notions of storytelling and paved the way for future generations of filmmakers. Although he may not have achieved widespread mainstream success, his influence on the world of cinema cannot be overstated. He will be remembered as a groundbreaking artist and a true original.

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