John Guillermin, director of Towering Inferno and King Kong, dies at 89

John Guillermin, the British director of The Towering Inferno and the 1976 version of King Kong, died earlier this week at his home in Los Angeles. He was a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday.

Nick Redman, a friend of Guillermin’s, confirmed the news to EW.

As a filmmaker, Guillermin was best known for action and adventure tales such as Shaft in Africa, Death on the Nile, El Condor, Skyjacked, Sheena, two Tarzan movies, and the sequel King Kong Lives. Over the course of his career, he worked with actors including Orson Welles, Paul Newman, Jessica Lange, Fred Astaire, Peter O’Toole, and Faye Dunaway.

Born in London, Guillermin studied at the University of Cambridge and served in the Royal Air Force before beginning his directing career in France, as a documentary filmmaker. He helmed his first feature, Torment (also known as Paper Gallows), in 1950.

“He was a tough man but a very charming man,” said Redman, whose Twilight Time label re-released Guillermin’s Rapture on home video in 2011. “He was every inch the Hollywood director, the Hollywood figure, but he had very much a European sensibility. He was a very urbane person, and he made some great movies.”