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British 'Top Gun' director Tony Scott jumps to his death

 
 
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LOS ANGELES — Prominent British Hollywood film director Tony Scott, whose signature works included "Top Gun," jumped to his death from a bridge in San Pedro, California, city officials announced late Sunday.

Police and US Coast Guard officials pulled Scott's body out of the water near the Vincent Thomas Bridge, which is built over Los Angeles Harbor, the coroner's office said, adding he had jumped from the structure.

Investigators found a suicide note in his office, which was parked on one lane of the bridge linking the city suburb of San Pedro to Terminal Island, the Los Angeles Times reported. Its content has not been revealed.

The newspaper earlier reported a suicide note had been found in his car.

A witness saw Scott, 68, climb over a fence on the bridge and jump into the water, according to Lieutenant Joseph Bale of the city coroner's office. Other witnesses said they later saw Scott's shoes floating in the water.

Authorities summoned divers and a helicopter in a bid to find Scott's body in the port's murky waters. It was recovered at approximately 3:00 pm (2200 GMT), four hours after he jumped, and turned over to coroner officials, Bale said.

The search has delayed a ferry linking the coast with Santa Catalina island.

Scott was the younger brother of fellow film director Ridley Scott, the maker of Oscar-winning movies like "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down" as well as other hits like "Blade Runner."

The family has confirmed Scott's death, but offered no details.

"I can confirm that Tony Scott has indeed passed away," the late director's spokeswoman, Katherine Rowe, told reporters. "The family asks that their privacy be respected at this time."

Scott, who was born in North Shields in 1944, made his mark in the mid-1980s when he directed "Top Gun," an action-filled blockbuster about elite navy pilots featuring then-rising star Tom Cruise.

It was one of the highest-grossing films of 1986, taking in more than $176 million and giving a major boost to Scott's and Cruise's careers. It also won an Academy Award for best music, original song.

The British filmmaker sought out Cruise again in 1990 when he started working on "Days of Thunder," another thriller exposing the rough-and-tumble world of NASCAR stock car racing.

He believed the actor's youthful charm, optimism and never-ending energy would guarantee success.

"Tom can sit behind the wheel of a race car and smoke a cigarette and this movie will make a fortune," Scott was quoted as saying at the time.

He did not miss the mark.

The film was criticized for what Hollywood media deemed excessive and sometimes over-the-top use of special effects, but it did well at the box office, grossing nearly $158 million.

Besides "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder," Scott directed "Enemy of the State," "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Spy Game," "Unstoppable" and "Crimson Tide," a submarine thriller starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.

He started his career under his brother's patronage in the early 1970s and directed thousands of television commercials for his brother's company Ridley Scott Associates.

A prolific filmmaker, Scott had more that 30 new projects in the pipeline, including "Top Gun 2," a sequel to the original movie, where Tom Cruise was again expected to play the lead role.

Scott was married to his third wife, actress Donna Scott. The couple had twin sons.

Agence France Presse / By Romain Raynaldy

Posted at August 20, 2012, 7:52am