Richard Donner (born 24 April 1930) is an American film director, film producer, and comic book writer. The production company The Donners' Company is owned by Donner and his wife, producer Lauren Shuler Donner. After directing the horror film The Omen Donner became famous for the hailed creation of the first modern superhero film, Superman, starring Christopher Reeve. The influence of this film eventually helped establish the superhero concept as a respected film genre. Donner reinvigorated the buddy film genre with Lethal Weapon and its sequels.
Donner was born Richard Donald Schwartzberg in the Bronx, New York City, the son of Hattie and Fred Schwartzberg; he has a sister, Joan. Donner started his career with hopes of acting but quickly moved into directing commercials and making business films. He moved into television in the late 1950s, directing some episodes of the Steve McQueen western serial Wanted: Dead or Alive and the Chuck Connors western The Rifleman.
He has worked on over twenty-five other television series including The Fugitive, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, The Six Million Dollar Man, Kojak, Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone (most notably the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" starring William Shatner), as well as the serial Danger Island from the children's program The Banana Splits. His first film, the low-budget military drama X-15 (1961) starring Charles Bronson, was not a great success, and he returned to television work.