Roger Corman, Movie Icon For Over 70 Years, Dead At 98

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

There are very few people that we can say reshaped Hollywood in his image, and Roger Corman was one of them. He helped turn the “B” movie into an art form, championing independent cinema while helping to launch the careers of one Hollywood megastar after another. Sadly, Roger Corman is now dead, having passed away on May 9 at the age of 98.

Iconic B-Movie Maker

With Roger Corman dead, fans and former colleagues everywhere are left to ponder the complex legacy left by the legendary director. Simply put, Corman devoted his entire life to making movies. He ultimately proved so good at this while wearing so many different hats that it is genuinely difficult to decide what to praise him for first.

What the man was best known for is B-movies, a genre that is fair to say he both saved and elevated. Back in the ‘50s, this genre had largely disappeared because the audiences that once flocked to schlock were instead watching television at home. Thanks to Roger Corman’s films, the B-movie genre stopped being a dead box office prospect and instead became a reliable box office lure.

Made Cult Films On Small Budgets

The key to that reliability was the director’s uncanny ability to create films for relatively shoestring budgets quickly. For example, House of Usher is often considered his best film, and this 1960 adaptation was made for only $300,000. If you think that’s low, though, he actually made the original The Little Shop of Horrors that same year for about about a tenth of that budget, and this went on to be arguably his most influential film.

Launced Ron Howard’s Career

Roger Corman may be dead, but in life, he helped the B-movie genre continue to flourish when he began New World Pictures. This allowed the veteran director to teach entire generations of Hollywood creators his unique skills of fast production and effective marketing. Because of his time as both director and mentor, Corman helped launch the careers of some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

One of those big names is Ron Howard, who has an interesting history with Corman. Howard wanted financing for a film he had written and planned to star in, and Corman counter-proposed that if Howard would star in one film, he would get financing and a chance to direct. Later, Howard recalled complaining about the low budget of the film he agreed to star in (Eat My Dust!  Was made for $300,000) and a low number of extras only to be told by Corman, “If you do a good job on this film, you won’t ever have to work for me again!”

Put More Celebs On The Map

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Without Roger Corman, other Hollywood careers that could have been dead on arrival flourished. He helped launch the career of Jack Nicholson (who starred in The Little Shop of Horrors) and James Cameron (Corman produced Piranha II: The Spawning, the younger director’s first feature film). 

Corman even put William Shatner on the map, making him the lead of the 1962 film The Intruder, and the strength of Shatner’s performance helped him prove him charismatic and captivating enough for the lead role on Star Trek.


Now that Roger Corman is dead, he leaves behind a rich cinematic legacy which includes winning an honorary Oscar in 2009 for helping produce and direct hundreds of films. At this time, Quentin Tarantino offered a toast to the Hollywood legend, and it comes up everything we would want to say about Corman: “the movie lovers of planet Earth thank you.”

Corman is survived by his wife Julie and their two daughters, Catherine and May. May they find peace and comfort in the outpouring of love around the world for one of the brightest and most original minds the world has ever seen.