EVANS, ROBERT (1930– ), U.S. film producer and actor. Born Robert Shapera in New York, Evans decided to become an actor in elementary school, and at 12 was cast in Radio Mystery Theater as a Nazi colonel. At 14 he was a regular talent on the radio program Let's Pretend. He changed his name to Evans in middle school, and began to find roles on television. He ventured out to Hollywood, but returned home to work in his brother's women's clothing company, Evan Picone. By 25 he was a millionaire, and at 26 he was rediscovered at a Beverly Hills hotel swimming pool and cast in the Lon Chaney biopic The Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) as studio head Irving thalberg opposite James Cagney. When the actors, writer, and director disliked working with him on his next film, the adaptation of Earnest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (1957), 20th Century Fox producer Darryl Zanuck paid a visit to the Mexican set and said, "The kid stays in the picture. And anybody who doesn't like it can quit\!" Evans was inspired by Zanuck's power and decided he wanted to become a producer. He was hired by 20th Century Fox but left Fox before ever making a picture. Tycoon Charles Bludhorn made Evans an offer he couldn't refuse, putting him in charge of Paramount Pictures. Under his leadership, Paramount had a string of hits: The Odd Couple (1968), Rosemary's Baby (1968), Goodbye, Columbus (1969), Love Story (1970), and The Godfather (1972), which won the Academy Award for best picture. Evans became enamored of actress Ali MacGraw; the couple married in 1969, and had a son, Joshua, before divorcing in 1972 (she left him for Steve McQueen whom she had met on the set of the Evans production The Getaway). Evans left Paramount to produce his own films, most notably Chinatown (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Black Sunday (1977), and Urban Cowboy (1980). Drug abuse, drug charges, and other scandals as well as two box-office bombs, The Cotton Club (1984) and The Two Jakes (1990), sunk his career. Broke but unbowed, Evans wrote his memoir The Kid Stays in the Picture in 1994, which became a bestseller and a cult favorite audio classic, later adopted by the Library of Congress. Evans was rewarded by a renewed deal at Paramount Studios. In 2003, he provided the voice for an animated cartoon, Kid Notorious, based on his exploits. Later film projects include producing the film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003). (Adam Wills (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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