For a short period of time between being a failed actor
and a failed producer
, Robert Evans was the head of production at Paramount Studios
and responsible for bringing to the screen some of the greatest movies of the 1960s
After an unpromising career start as a prettyboy leading man, Evans turned to the business side of movies and ended up with a job at Paramount on a fluke (he held the rights to the right novel at the right time). After a swift rise through the ranks of the studio, at the time the least successful of all the majors, Evans got to produce a string of hits that brought Paramount back to the top: The Odd Couple, Rosemary's Baby, Goodbye, Columbus, Love Story (both starring wife Ali MacGraw, whom he eventually lost to Steve McQueen), Serpico and finally the first two parts of The Godfather.
The movies got Evans a considerable amount of clout, and he managed to create an independent unit within Paramount, producing Chinatown and Marathon Man. But success didn't last, and after a string of expensive flops in the late 1970s and some cocaine-related trouble with the authorities, by the 1980s Evans was a pathetic figure and a major has-been. In 1984 he managed to put together a deal to produce The Cotton Club, which only led to him being implicated in a murder and more drug-related shenanigans. The movie flopped too.
Only in the early 1990s did Evans manage to get back on top, producing modest hits like Sliver and The Saint, and writing his memoirs in the ironically titled The Kid Stays In the Picture (a line spoken to him by legendary producer Darryl F. Zanuck). A documentary based on the book was released in 2002 and as of this writing, his latest production How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is in theaters.