Robert Downey Sr.

Introduction: Who is Robert Downey Sr?

Robert Downey Sr is an American filmmaker, actor, and writer who is best known for his avant-garde films and TV shows. He was born on June 24, 1936, in New York City, and started his career in the entertainment industry in the 1960s. Downey Sr is also the father of Hollywood superstar Robert Downey Jr, who has followed in his father’s footsteps and become one of the most successful actors in the world.

Early Life and Career of Robert Downey Sr

Robert Downey Sr.

Childhood and Education

Robert Downey Sr was born in Manhattan, New York, to parents who were both actors. His father, Robert Elias Sr, was a filmmaker and producer, and his mother, Elizabeth McLoughlin, was an actress. Downey Sr grew up in Greenwich Village and attended Stuyvesant High School. After graduating, he enrolled at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) to study filmmaking.

Early Career in Filmmaking

After completing his studies, Downey Sr moved to New York City and started working in the film industry. He made his directorial debut in 1961 with the film “Balls Bluff,” which was a satire of the American Civil War. He went on to make several other films in the 1960s, including “Chafed Elbows,” “No More Excuses,” and “Putney Swope,” which was a controversial satire of the advertising industry.

Robert Downey Sr’s Iconic Films and TV Shows

Putney Swope

“Putney Swope” is one of Downey Sr’s most well-known films. It was released in 1969 and tells the story of a black man who is accidentally elected as the CEO of a white-owned advertising agency. The film is a biting satire of the advertising industry and American society as a whole. It was a critical and commercial success and is still regarded as a classic of independent cinema.

Greaser’s Palace

“Greaser’s Palace” is another of Downey Sr’s most famous films. It was released in 1972 and is a surrealistic Western that tells the story of a Jesus-like figure who arrives in a small town in the Old West. The film is a commentary on religion, American culture, and the Vietnam War. Like “Putney Swope,” it was a critical and commercial success and is still regarded as a classic of independent cinema.

Robert Downey Sr’s Legacy and Influence

Influence on Robert Downey Jr

Robert Downey Jr has often cited his father as a major influence on his career. He has said that growing up around his father’s films and TV shows inspired him to become an actor. Downey Jr has also appeared in several of his father’s films, including “Putney Swope” and “Hugo Pool.”

Legacy in Independent Cinema

Robert Downey Sr is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of independent cinema. His films and TV shows were groundbreaking in their use of satire, surrealism, and social commentary. He paved the way for future independent filmmakers and his influence can be seen in the work of directors like Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson.


Robert Downey Sr is a true icon of American cinema. His films and TV shows were ahead of their time and continue to be revered by audiences and critics alike. He has had a profound influence on the entertainment industry and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of filmmakers.

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