David Brown, an urbane New Yorker with whom Zanuck produced the two Spielberg films, also worked with him in producing “The Sting” in 1973. Reuniting Paul Newman, Robert Redford and the director George Roy Hill after their 1969 box office hit “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting” won the best movie Oscar, though Zanuck and Brown (the husband of the Cosmopolitann magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown) were not listed as its producers.
Zanuck produced six movies directed by Tim Burton, including this year’s “Dark Shadows,” starring Johnny Depp as a heartsick vampire. They also collaborated on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005), Burton’s reimagining of “Planet of the Apes” (2001), and “Alice in Wonderland” (2010). “Alice” has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
As a boy Zanuck had the run of 20th Century Fox, where his father reigned as one of the most powerful Hollywood moguls. Richard attended his first Academy Awards ceremony at age 7.
In high school and college, he worked in a different department at Fox every summer. In 1962, when Zanuck was still in his 20s, his father defied charges of nepotism and made him Fox’s production chief. Under Richard, the studio won 159 Oscar nominations, and three movies — “The Sound of Music,” “Patton” and “The French Connection” — were named best picture.
Darryl Zanuck, a cigar-chomping Midwesterner who never made it to high school and waved a polo mallet to reinforce a conversational point, fired his son in 1970 after a studio shake-up. The father was trying to save his own job, unsuccessfully. Richard Zanuck’s resentment lasted almost until his father’s death, in 1979.
“It was different from the usual father-son relationship,” Zanuck told The New York Times in 2003. “But I was able to patch everything up before my father died.”
Richard — soft-spoken, Stanford-educated and comfortable on a California beach — went on to his productive collaboration with Brown after a brief stop at Warner Brothers.