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Francis Ford Coppola and others salute Robert Evans — for better and worse

Robert Evans
Film producer Robert Evans died on Saturday.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans was saluted Monday by his contemporaries and fans as word of his death went public. And the “Chinatown” and “Love Story” producer, who died Saturday at 89, had a checkered past that did not go unnoticed in death.

In fact, the former Paramount Pictures chief’s contributions and contentious relationship with “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola were sometimes eclipsed by recollections of his notorious life as a playboy, cocaine-buying bust and involvement in the “Cotton Club” murder case.

In a statement to The Times, Coppola cited Evans’ influence on his films, recalling his specific notes on the “Godfather” movies but glossing over their infamous relationship on 1984’s “The Cotton Club.”

As the chief of Paramount Pictures, Robert Evans presided over a remarkable run of film classics including “Chinatown” and “The Godfather.”
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“I remember Bob Evans‘ charm, good looks, enthusiasm, style and sense of humor. He had strong instincts as evidenced by the long list of great films in his career,” the five-time Oscar winner said in a statement to The Times.

“When I worked with Bob, some of his helpful ideas included suggesting John Marley as [movie producer] Woltz and Sterling Hayden as the Police Captain, and his ultimate realization that ‘The Godfather’ could be 2 hours and 45 minutes in length; also, making a movie out of ‘The Cotton Club’ — casting Richard Gere and Gregory Hines, and bringing Milena Canonero, George Faison, Richard Sylbert and many other talented people to work on the film. May the kid always stay in the picture.”

Filmmaker Brett Morgen, who directed and produced Evans’ 2002 film-memoir, “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” and Comedy Central series “Kid Notorious,” tweeted that Evans’ life was the movie titan’s “greatest production of all.”

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Paramount Pictures recently announced that it would be dedicating its executive screening room in the Redstone Building on the Paramount lot to the producer, dubbing the theater the Robert Evans Screening Room, so that “many more generations of film lovers could share his passion for great cinema.”

“Hollywood has lost one of its most influential and iconic figures in the inimitable Bob Evans,” the studio said in a statement Monday. “He was a valued and beloved partner to Paramount Pictures for over half a century, and his contributions to our organization and the entertainment industry are innumerable and far-reaching. As an actor, a producer and a leader, he has left an indelible mark on our studio and the world of film. His influence will be felt for generations to come.”

Here’s a sampling of other Evans musings and tributes:

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