Dick Richards
Born1936 (age 86–87)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, producer

Dick Richards (born 1936) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Known as a storyteller and an "actor’s director", Richards worked with Robert Mitchum, Gene Hackman, Martin Sheen, Blythe Danner, Catherine Deneuve, Alan Arkin, Wilford Brimley, and many others.



Born and raised in New York, Richards rose to prominence during the 1960s advertising revolution, becoming a world-renowned photographer and commercial director with clients including Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Polaroid, General Motors, Hertz, Pepsi, etc.

His celebrated advertising work won every major industry award including the Cannes Lion for best worldwide commercial, as well as multiple Clio’s and New York Art Director Awards. Pauline Kael referred to Richards as "a photographer who became a whiz at TV commercials [before directing movies]".[1]


After years in the New York commercial world, Richards moved to Hollywood and directed his first feature film, The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972), which was praised for its historical accuracy and period atmosphere. The film won Richards the WGA's Screen Writer's Annual Story Award and earned Jerry Bruckheimer his first film credit as associate producer.[2] Richards and Bruckheimer, friends from their commercial days, went on to make three more movies together.

After seeing his directorial debut, Universal Pictures producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown hired Richards to direct the film Jaws. They soon grew irritated by Richards's habit of describing the shark as a whale and dropped him from the project, replacing him with Steven Spielberg.[3][4]

Richards' next film, Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975), starring Alan Arkin, McKenzie Phillips and Harry Dean Stanton, opened to positive reviews. In her book, Reeling, Pauline Kael calls Richards "A real southpaw" and said that, "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins sneaks up on you-you discover it like a ‘sleeper.’ I found it a funny, velvety film, with the kind of tenderness you can almost feel on your fingertips."[1]

That same year Richards directed Robert Mitchum and Charlotte Rampling in the Raymond Chandler adaptation, Farewell, My Lovely (1975). Roger Ebert said the movie "Never steps wrong" and called it "a totally assured piece of work".[5] Sylvia Miles earned a Best Supporting Actress Nomination. Sylvester Stallone also appears on screen in an early, pre-Rocky role. Film critic Rex Reed said, "Farewell, My Lovely is the kind of movie Humphrey Bogart would have stood in line to see."[6]

Richards went on to direct the British war drama March or Die (1977), starring Gene Hackman, Catherine Deneuve, and Terence Hill; the horror film Death Valley (1982); an adaptation of Erich Segal’s book by the same name, Man, Woman, and Child (1983), starring Martin Sheen and Blythe Danner; and Heat (1986), starring Burt Reynolds.

In 1983 Richards won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy for Tootsie (1982), which he optioned, developed and produced with Sydney Pollack. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards (including a Best Picture nomination for Richards and Pollack). Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars praised the film as "the kind of Movie with a capital M that they used to make in the 1940s, when they weren’t afraid to mix up absurdity with seriousness, social comment with farce, and a little heartfelt tenderness right in there with the laughs."[7] In 1998, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1972 The Culpepper Cattle Company Yes Yes No Also cinematographer
1975 Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins Yes No No
Farewell, My Lovely Yes No No
1977 March or Die Yes Yes Yes
1982 Death Valley Yes No No
Tootsie No No Yes
1983 Man, Woman and Child Yes No No
1986 Heat Yes No No As R.M. Richards


  1. ^ a b Kael, Pauline "Reeling" Little Brown; 1st edition (1977)
  2. ^ "Jerry Bruckheimer: The Hollywood Interview". Thehollywoodinterview.blogspot.com. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  3. ^ Brode 1995, p. 50
  4. ^ Russell, Calum (May 5, 2023). "The bizarre reason director Dick Richards was fired from 'Jaws'". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger "Reviews: Farewell, My Lovely" RogerEbert.com January 1, 1975
  6. ^ Townsend, Guy M."The Mystery Fancier (Vol. 1 No. 6) November 1977 Page 9"
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger"Reviews: Tootsie" RogerEbert.com December 17, 1982

Works cited