Birthplace: New York City
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Gay
Occupation: Film Director
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Lost Boys
Joel Schumacher grew up in a relatively poor neighborhood of New York City. His mother was widowed when Schumacher was 4, and worked six days and two nights a week to support the family. Adulthood came quickly for young Schumacher, as he started working part-time at a butcher shop at the age of nine, started drinking and smoking by 10, and lost his virginity to an older boy at 11. In his early 20s, Schumacher studied design and display at Parsons School of Design, designed window displays for New York department stores, and eventually worked for Revlon. He lost about five years addicted to red speed (liquid methamphetamine), but finally kicked the needle in 1970, once his trackmarks had helped him to sidestep the draft.
Schumacher started in filmmaking as an art director for television commercials, and eventually a friend of a friend who knew Dominique Dunne suggested Schumacher as costume designer for a low-budget film Dunne was producing, Play It As It Lays. For $200 a week, Schumacher created the clothes worn by Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins in that rarely-seen Hollywood melodrama. Schumacher's masterpiece of costume design was Sleeper, the absurdist sci-fi comedy remembered as the high point of Woody Allen's "funny period". He also did needle and pin- work on Paul Mazursky's Blume in Love, Neil Simon's Prisoner of Second Avenue, and Allen's first "serious" film, Interiors.
But at the same time, Schumacher started writing screenplays, and a few sold. He wrote the classic 1970s comedy Car Wash, starring Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and the Pointer Sisters. He later wrote The Wiz, based on the Broadway play. Schumacher directed a TV movie about the life of Bugsy Siegel's favorite moll, Virginia Hill, with Dyan Cannon in the lead, but it got bad ratings and worse reviews. Five years later he got a second chance, with the talent show comedy-drama Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill, with an all-B-star cast including Don Johnson and Henry Gibson.
In 1981 Schumacher directed his first big-screen film, Lily Tomlin's The Incredible Shrinking Woman. He co-wrote and directed the Brat Pack classic St. Elmo's Fire. It drew lukewarm reviews but enough of an audience to make Schumacher a full-time director. His best films include The Lost Boys, the suburban vampire comedy/thriller, and two John Grisham adaptations, The Client and A Time to Kill. Schumacher also directed the cardiac thriller Flatliners, and the controversial drama Falling Down, with Michael Douglas as the personification of "disgruntled". Always out of the closet, Schumacher wrote and directed Flawless, a drag queen comedy-drama with Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and he co-wrote the screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera with Webber.
In the late 1990s and early 00s, Schumacher went through a cold streak where he earned the nickname "Joel Shitmaker". He pretty much destroyed the Batman movie franchise, with the popular but wildly overblown Batman Forever (Val Kilmer behind the mask) and the far worse Batman & Robin (with George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell). His two Batman movies are the only times Schumacher has worked with a big budget. He delivered a thriller in 8MM with Nicolas Cage, but the ads promised a movie so depressing that the audiences stayed away. The rather daring low-budget thriller Phone Booth, with Colin Farrell, helped repair Schumacher's reputation.
In a 2002 interview with Sight & Sound, Schumacher listed Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, and Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover as his favorite films.
Father: (d. 1944)
Mother: Marian Schumacher (Swedish, d. 1965)
University: Fashion Institute of Technology
University: Parsons School of Design, New School University (1965)
Revlon Product Designer (1970)
John Kerry for President
Wedding: George Stephanopoulos and Alexandra Wentworth (2001)
Swedish Ancestry Maternal
Risk Factors: Methamphetamine, Alcoholism
FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
Blood Creek (18-Sep-2009)
The Number 23 (21-Feb-2007)
The Phantom of the Opera (9-Dec-2004)
Veronica Guerin (8-Jul-2003)
Phone Booth (10-Sep-2002)
Bad Company (26-Apr-2002)
Batman & Robin (20-Jun-1997)
A Time To Kill (24-Jul-1996)
Batman Forever (16-Jun-1995)
The Client (20-Jul-1994)
Falling Down (26-Feb-1993)
Dying Young (21-Jun-1991)
The Lost Boys (31-Jul-1987)
St. Elmo's Fire (28-Jun-1985)
D.C. Cab (16-Dec-1983)
The Incredible Shrinking Woman (30-Jan-1981)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Side by Side (Feb-2012) · Himself
Welcome to Hollywood (27-Oct-2000) · Himself
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