Dustin Hoffman parodied producer Robert Evans in Wag the Dog. Ali MacGraw married him, but producing Love Story was his more successful endeavor. Rosemary’s Baby was delivered by him and Chinatown brought him an Oscar nomination.
These badges of Hollywood honor and so many more belonged to Evans, who died on Saturday, October 26, of unknown causes.
His crowning achievements — many earned while acting as Paramount chief — included overseeing such films as The Godfather series, Serpico, and Urban Cowboy.
His private life wasn’t quite as successful.
Evans married seven women — Sharon Hugueny, Camilla Sparv, Phyllis George, Catherine Oxenberg, Leslie Ann Woodward, and Lady Victoria White — but most of those legal unions did not last long.
However, he did have a constant companion throughout his professional life. That person was Jack Nicholson, according to Access Hollywood. In fact, Nicholson was so fond of his buddy that when he lost his beloved Beverly Hills home, Woodland, the actor bought the place and handed the home back to its former owner.
The New York Times summed up Robert Evans and how he endured in the limelight.
“In a world full of big lives, he lived one of the biggest: boardroom fights, tabloid romances, tennis with Henry Kissinger, even a murder trial…His colorful, twisty life made him a show business legend… but his biggest contribution to the movie industry paradoxically involved substance over style. When Mr. Evans took Paramount’s reins in 1966, Hollywood was in creative decline, relying heavily on established stars and safely sellable scripts. Mr. Evans helped rewrite the formula for a time by championing young writers and directors with striking cinematic voices.”
Variety talked about Evans in 2002, stating how he attacked his Hollywood endeavors.
“We didn’t strive for commercial. We went for original. We fell on our asses on some of them, but we also touched magic.”
The man was imminently quotable. He could be crass and he could be cagey. He wore bolo ties and he stayed tan all year round. He was prone to addiction and he was reportedly too fond of cocaine.
As to the latter, he had been highly documented as having been caught with the white substance. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges in 1980 and so did his brother and his brother-in-law.
Evans was no longer in the good graces of Hollywood following that incident and some other unsavory situations. However, he did rebound enough to produce How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days in 2003 that was not only a hit, but that made “about $251 million worldwide in today’s dollars,” according to The New York Times.
Robert Evans was 89-years-old at the time of his death.