Norman Jewison, ‘Moonstruck’ and ‘In the Heat of the Night’ Director, Dead at 97

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    Norman Jewison, the Oscar-nominated director of Moonstruck and In the Heat of the Night, has died. He was 97. 

    In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the director’s publicist, Jeff Sanderson, said Jewison passed away Saturday at his home. 

    The seven-time Academy Award nominee was known for his ability to jump from genre to genre, directing musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and Jesus Christ Superstar, romantic comedies like Moonstruck, and thrillers such as The Hurricane and The Cincinnati Kid

    Following his death, Cher — who received an Oscar for her role in Moonstruck — remembered the director in a post on social media, thanking him for his contribution to society. 

    “Farewell Sweet Prince👑. Thank U For One Of The Greatest, Happiest, Most Fun Experiences Of My Life. Without U, I Would Not Have My Beautiful Golden Man,” the “Believe” singer wrote. “Norman U Made Moonstruck The GREAT FILM Ppl🩵. Script, Actors, Etc, NEEDED U DEAR❤️ NORMAN JEWISON LIVES ON THROUGH HIS WORK.”

    Lee Grant, who starred in Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night, also remembered the director in a tweet, thanking him for giving her a career.

    “Norman Jewison is a giant and I am in his debt. He gave me back a career at the end of the blacklist. I doubt there has been a more versatile director before or since,” she wrote. “A huge hearted man and truly unique talent. Nothing I say here can do him justice. But I can say ‘Thank You.'”

    On social media, other actors and creatives paid homage to the Toronto-born director who got his start in television musical spots, directing Harry Belafonte, Judy Garland, and Andy Williams. 

    “This Jew grew up singing/wailing along to the 8-track tape (look it up, young’uns) of Jesus Christ Superstar. R.I.P. Norman Jewison,” wrote The West Wing actor Joshua Malina. 

    Three of Jewison’s seven Oscar noms came from the Best Director category for In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, and Moonstruck. The other four are for Best Picture for The Russians Are Coming, Fiddler on the Roof, A Soldier’s Story, and Moonstruck.

    In total, the director’s films received a whopping 46 nominations and 12 wins at the Academy Awards. He is also the recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America. 

    Jewison is survived by his wife, Lynne St. David-Jewison, his three children, and his five grandchildren. His first wife, Margaret Ann Dixon, died in 2004 after 51 years of marriage. 

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