Robert Downey, Sr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Robert Downey Sr)
Jump to: navigation, search
For his son, see Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Sr.
Born Robert John Elias Jr.
(1936-06-24) June 24, 1936 (age 78)[1]
New York City, New York[1]
Years active 1961–present
Spouse(s) Elsie Ann Ford (m. 1962; div. 1975)[2]
Laura Ernst (m. 1991; her death 1994)
Rosemary Rogers (m. 1998)
Children Allyson Downey
Robert Downey Jr.

Robert John Downey Sr. ( Robert Elias Jr.; June 24, 1936) is an American actor and filmmaker, and the father of actor Robert Downey Jr. He is best known as an underground filmmaker, serving as director and/or writer of such cult classics as Putney Swope, a satire on the New York Madison Avenue advertising world. According to film scholar Wheeler Winston Dixon, Downey's films during the 1960s were "strictly take-no-prisoners affairs, with minimal budgets and outrageous satire, effectively pushing forward the countercultural agenda of the day."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Downey was born in New York City, the son of Elizabeth (née McLoughlin), a model, and Robert Elias Sr., who worked in management of motels and restaurants.[1] His paternal grandparents were Romanian Jews, while his mother was of half Irish and half Hungarian Jewish ancestry.[4][5][6][7] Downey was born Robert Elias; but he changed his last name to Downey for his stepfather, James Downey, when he wanted to enlist in the United States Army but was underage at the time.[8][9]

Downey has been married three times. His first marriage was to actress Elsie Ann Downey (née Ford), with whom he had two children: actress-writer Allyson Downey and actor Robert Downey Jr. The marriage ended in divorce in 1975. His second marriage, to actress-writer Laura Ernst, ended with her 1994 death from Lou Gehrig's disease. In 1998 he married his third wife, Rosemary Rogers, author of Random House bestseller, Saints Preserve Us! and seven other books. They live in New York City.[10]


In 1961, working with the film editor Fred von Bernewitz, he began writing and directing low-budget 16mm films that gained an underground following, beginning with Ball's Bluff (1961), a fantasy short about a Civil War soldier who awakens in Central Park in 1961. He moved into big-budget filmmaking with the surrealistic Greaser's Palace (1972).[11] His most recent film was Rittenhouse Square (2005), a documentary capturing life in a Philadelphia park.[12]

Downey's films were often family affairs. His first wife, Elsie, appears in four of his movies (Chafed Elbows, Pound, Greaser's Palace, Moment to Moment), as well as co-writing one (Moment to Moment). Daughter Allyson and son Robert Jr. each made their film debuts in the 1970 absurdist comedy Pound at the ages of 7 and 5, respectively; Allyson would appear in one more film by her father, Up the Academy. Robert Jr.'s lengthy acting résumé includes appearances in eight films directed by his father (Pound, Greaser's Palace, Moment to Moment, Up the Academy, America, Rented Lips, Too Much Sun, Hugo Pool), as well as two acting appearances in movies where his father was also an actor (Johnny Be Good, Hail Caesar).



  1. ^ a b c "Film Voices". 
  2. ^ Finn, Natalie (September 26, 2014). "Robert Downey Jr.'s Mother Dies: Read His Moving, Candid Tribute to Elsie Ann Downey". E! Online. Retrieved April 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ Wheeler Winston Dixon, Rutgers University Press, Jul 11, 2007, Film Talk: Directors at Work, Retrieved November 10, 2014 (see page xi Introduction paragraph 3), ISBN 978-0-8135-4077-1
  4. ^ Gates, Henry Louis. "Robert Downey, Jr.". Finding Your Roots: The Official Companion to the PBS Series (1st ed.). UNC Press Books. ISBN 146961801X. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Robert Downey Jr. – Inside The Actors Studio Pt. 1 on YouTube
  6. ^ Daisy Fried (May 1, 1997). "Senior Class". Philadelphia City Paper. Retrieved June 17, 2008. 
  7. ^ Jamie Diamond (December 20, 1992). "Robert Downey Jr. Is Chaplin (on Screen) and a Child (Off)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2008. 
  8. ^ Diamond, Jamie. (December 20, 1992). "FILM; Robert Downey Jr. Is Chaplin (on Screen) and a Child (Off)". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Fulton, Rick (October 27, 2010). "Robert Downey Jr: I don't even know what it's like to be stoned any more". Daily Record. 
  10. ^ "Rosemary Rogers, Robert Downey". The New York Times. May 10, 1998. Retrieved August 1, 2008. 
  11. ^ Vincent Canby. "Review: Greaser's Palace". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Rittenhouse Square (2005) IMDB". IMDB. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 

External links[edit]