Robert Evans was a true Hollywood character and I think that, if he hadn’t existed, someone would have had to have created him. He went from selling clothes to starring in B-movies to producing blockbusters. He made and lost and remade a fortune while marrying one of the most beautiful women in the world, Ali MacGraw. Among his friends were Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Henry Kissinger, and Robert Towne. Among his enemies was occasionally Francis Ford Coppola, who never would have directed The Godfather if not for Evans’s insistence that he be given the job. Dustin Hoffman was nominated for an Oscar for playing Evans in Wag The Dog. In Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind, Geoffrey Land played “Max David,” a studio executive who was obviously meant to be Evans.
Bob Evans’s lows were almost as intense as his highs. Forced out of his position at Paramount, Evans went independent and produced Chinatown. Evans married Ali MacGraw, just to lose her to Steve McQueen. He was arrested for cocaine possession and then went on to produce one of the great pop cultural moments of the 80s, the anti-drug tv special, Get High On Yourself. He lost a fortune on The Cotton Club but made a comeback in the 90s.
In 1994, He also wrote on the greatest Hollywood memoirs of all time, The Kid Stays In The Picture. Written in Evans’s trademark mix of cynicism and sentiment, The Kid Stays In The Picture tells a warts-and-all story of fast times and big talent in Hollywood. With both the book and a subsequent documentary of the same name, Robert Evans let the world know who he was and that he wasn’t going to apologize for a damn thing.
Robert Evans died on Saturday, in Beverly Hills. He was 89 years old and with his passing, an amazing story of Hollywood comes to a close.
Rest in Peace, Bob Evans.