Roger William Corman (born April 5, 1926) is an American independent film producer, director, and actor. He has been called "The Pope of Pop Cinema" and is known as a trailblazer in the world of independent film. Much of Corman's work has an established critical reputation, such as his cycle of low budget cult films adapted from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Admired by members of the French New Wave and Cahiers du cinéma, in 1964 Corman was the youngest filmmaker to have a retrospective at the Cinémathèque Française, as well as the British Film Institute and the Museum of Modern Art. In 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award.

Corman mentored and gave a start to many young film directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and James Cameron. He also helped to launch the careers of actors Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson.

Corman has occasionally taken minor acting roles in the films of directors who started with him, including The Silence of the Lambs, The Godfather Part II, Apollo 13, The Manchurian Candidate and Philadelphia.

A documentary about Corman's life and career entitled Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, directed by Alex Stapleton, premiered at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals in 2011. The film's TV rights were picked up by A&E IndieFilms after a well-received screening at Sundance.

Early life

Corman was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Anne (née High) and William Corman, an engineer. His younger brother, Eugene Harold "Gene" Corman, has also produced numerous films, sometimes in collaboration with Roger. Corman and his brother were baptized in their mother's Catholic faith. Corman went to Beverly Hills High School and then to Stanford University to study Industrial Engineering. While at Stanford, Corman enlisted in the V-12 Navy College Training Program. After the end of World War II, Corman returned to Stanford and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering in 1947. While at Stanford University, Roger Corman was initiated in the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In 1948, he worked briefly at U.S. Electrical Motors on Slauson Avenue in Los Angeles, but his career in engineering lasted only four days; he began work on Monday and quit on Thursday, telling his boss "I've made a terrible mistake."

More interested in film, Corman found work at 20th Century Fox initially in the mail room. He worked his way up to a story reader. The one property that he liked the most and provided ideas for was filmed as The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck. When Corman received no credit at all he left Fox and decided he would work in film by himself. Under the GI Bill, Corman studied English Literature at Oxford University. He then returned to Los Angeles, beginning his film career in 1953 as a producer and screenwriter, then started directing films in 1955.


Corman began to direct films in the mid-1950s, including Swamp Women (1955). In his early period, he produced up to nine movies a year. His fastest film was perhaps The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), which was reputedly shot in two days and one night. Supposedly, he had made a bet that he could shoot an entire feature film in less than three days. Another version of the story claims that he had a set rented for a month, and finished using it with three days to spare, thus pushing him to use the set to make a new film. (This is a variation of the story behind 1963's The Terror, much of which was filmed in two leftover days with Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson, after The Raven, which featured them both, wrapped with two days to spare.)

In addition to producing and directing films for American International Pictures (AIP), Corman also partially funded other low-budget films released by other film companies. In 1959, Corman founded Filmgroup with his brother Gene, a company producing or releasing low-budget black-and-white films as double features for drive-ins and action houses. Finding that black-and-white double features were not as successful as colour films, Corman returned to AIP, and Filmgroup ceased operation in 1962.

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