Roger Corman, director, producer and ‘King of B-movies,’ dead at 98

Roger Corman

Roger Corman, who directed and produced low-budget films to earn the nickname of “King of the B-movies,” died on May 9. He was 98.

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Corman died at his home in Santa Monica, California, surrounded by family members, Variety reported.

“His films were revolutionary and iconoclastic, and captured the spirit of an age,” his daughter, Catherine Corman, said in a statement. “When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, just that.’

Corman discovered future film stars such as Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorcese, according to Variety.

He also hired filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard and James Cameron, The Associated Press reported.

Starting in 1955, Corman helped create hundreds of films as a producer and director, among them “Black Scorpion,” “Bucket of Blood” and “Bloody Mama,” according to the news organization.

For more than a half-century, Corman took over the B-movie market, Variety reported. Even into his 90s, he was producing films with budgets of less than $5 million for video and television release.

Born in Detroit on April 5, 1926, Corman moved with his family in 1940 to Los Angeles, according to the entertainment news outlet.

He graduated from Beverly Hills High School and majored in engineering at Stanford University, but his first love was film.

“There was no way I couldn’t be interested in movies, growing up where I did,” Carman once said.

He received a story credit for “Highway Dragnet” (1954), which he also co-produced, and got his first producer credit on “The Fast and the Furious” that same year.

He worked out a multi-picture deal with American Releasing Corp., which later changed its name to American-International Pictures (AIP), according to Corman’s biography on

His first directing credit came in the 1955 film, “Five Guns West.” Over the next 15 years he directed 53 films, mostly for AIP.

Corman set a record for producing a movie in 1960′s “The Little Shop of Horrors,” which he shot in two days and a night, according to

Known as the hero of drive-in movies, Corman was responsible for eight low-budget hits based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Variety reported.

They included “The Fall of the House of Usher” in 1960, followed by “The Tomb of Ligeia” and “The Masque of Red Death.” The films revived the careers of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone and Peter Lorre, according to the entertainment news website.

“There are many constraints connected with working on a low budget, but at the same time there are certain opportunities,” Corman said in a 2007 documentary, according to the AP. “You can gamble a little bit more. You can experiment. You have to find a more creative way to solve a problem or to present a concept.”

During that era, Corman gave unknown actors like Ellen Burstyn, Nicholson and De Niro, screenwriters like Robert Towne and directors like Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante and Peter Bogdanovich their starts, Variety reported.

In 1970 Corman formed New World Pictures. His releases included “Women in Cages,” “Night Call Nurses,” “Piranha,” “Eat My Dust” and “Death Race 2000.”

In 2009, Corman received an honorary Academy Award for “his rich engendering of films and filmmakers.”