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‘Silence of the Lambs’ director dies of cancer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jonathan Demme, the eclectic movie director whose work ranged from thrillers like “The Silence of the Lambs” to documentaries on leading musicians, died early on Wednesday of complications from esophageal cancer, his publicist said.

The 73-year-old director of ground-breaking AIDS movie “Philadelphia” died in his Manhattan apartment surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children, publicist Annalee Paulo said in a statement.

Demme’s most recent feature film was the 2015 comedy “Ricki and the Flash,” starring Meryl Streep as an aging rocker.

Streep called him a “big hearted, big tent, compassionate man – in full embrace in his life of people in need,” in a statement on Wednesday.

New York-born Demme won a directing Oscar for the 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs,” which also won Oscars for best picture and for its stars Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.