Last Updated: September 27, 2023
Richest CelebritiesDirectors
Net Worth:
$40 Million
Date of Birth:
Feb 22, 1944 - Jan 1, 1970 (73 years old)
Place of Birth:
5 ft 9 in (1.77 m)
Film director, Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor, Television Director, Television producer
United States of America
💰 Compare Jonathan Demme's Net Worth

What was Jonathan Demme's Net Worth?

Jonathan Demme was an American filmmaker, writer and director who had a net worth of $40 million. Jonathan Demme began his film industry career in the early 1970s with "The Hot Box" and "Angels Hard as They Come". He directed several films, including "Crazy Mama" and "Melvin and Howard", before landing Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn for a production of "Swing Shift". The movie flopped, and Demme took a break from Hollywood until he returned with a bang in 1991 with "The Silence of the Lambs". He took home a Best Director Oscar for the movie and was nominated for two BAFTA awards and a Golden Globe.

Demme went on to work on "Beloved", "Philadelphia", "The Truth About Charlie", "The Manchurian Candidate", "Man from Plains" and "Rachel Getting Married". Demme produced several music videos, including Bruce Springsteen's 1995 hit "Murder Incorporated". He also directed the Talking Heads' documentary film "Stop Making Sense". He owned the production company Clinica Estetico and sat on the board at the Jacob Burns Film Center in New York, where he put together a monthly series known as "Rarely Seen Cinema".

Unfortunately, Jonathan Demme died on April 26, 2017 at the age of 73. He had been suffering from esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease. He was the uncle of "Blow" director Ted Demme who died in 2002 at the age of 38.

Early Life

Demme was born on February 22, 1944 in Baldwin, New York to parents Dorothy Louise and Robert Eugene Demme. His father worked as a public relations executive. He was raised in Rockville Centre, New York and later in Miami. He attended Southwest Miami High School and later enrolled at the University of Florida.


Demme broke into feature films working for exploitation film producer Roger Corman early in his career, co-writing and producing "Angels Hard as They Come" in 1971. The following year, he worked on "The Hot Box." He then directed three films for Corman's studio, New World Pictures. The first was "Caged Heat" in 1974, "Crazy Mama" in 1975, and "Fighting Mad" in 1976. Demme then directed the comedy film "Handle with Care" for Paramount Pictures, which was well-received by critics though it did not perform well at the box office.

In 1980, he directed "Melvin and Howard." The film was the subject of critical acclaim and also won two Academy Awards. Due to the film's success, Demme was brought on to direct the film "Swing Shift" starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. The film was meant to be a prestige film for Warner Bros., in addition to helping Demme break into mainstream film. However, the project was fraught with difficulty due to difficulties between Demme and Hawn. When the film was finished in 1984, Demme renounced the project and it did not do well with critics or viewers.

What is Jonathan Demme's Net Worth?

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Demme then took a step away from Hollywood in order to make the Talking Heads concert film "Stop Making Sense." The documentary won the National Society of Film Critics Award in the Best Documentary category. He then worked on the romantic action comedy "Something Wild," the film version of the stage production "Swimming to Cambodia," and the comedy "Married to the Mob." He then formed his own production company, Clinica Estetico, along with producers Edward Saxon and Peter Saraf in 1987. The company was based out of New York City for the next fifteen years.

Demme began directing more prominent films in the 1990s and 2000s. In 1991, he directed "The Silence of the Lambs," which was one of only three films to win the Academy Award in all the major categories – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress. He then made the film "Philadelphia" in 1993. In 1998, he directed a screen adaptation of Toni Morrison's book "Beloved." In 2002, he directed "The Truth About Charlie" and then "The Manchurian Candidate" in 2004. In 2007, he made the documentary film "Men from Plains."

In 2008, he directed the arthouse film "Rachel Getting Married." Some critics compared the film to some of his films from the early 1970s and 1980s. The film received multiple nominations at the Academy Awards. In 2010, Demme entered the theater scene for the first time when he directed "Family Week," a play by Beth Henley. In 2016, he made the concert documentary film "Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids." One of his last major film projects was a history of rock & roll that he made the for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Throughout his films, Demme became known for his dramatic close-ups. A number of other directors have stated they have been inspired by Demme's style in their own filmmaking, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Alexander Payne, and Wes Anderson. He was also known for his use of recurring supporting actors like Charles Napier, Harry Northup, Tracey Walter, Ann Dowd, and Kimberly Elise, among many others.

Personal Life and Death

Demme was married twice in his life. His first wife was Evelyn Purcell and their marriage ended in divorce. In 1987, he married Joanne Howard, an artist. They had three children together. Demme was a member of the steering committee of the Friends of the Apollo Theater in Oberlin, Ohio along with Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. In 2013, he was granted an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Oberlin.

Demme was an avid collector and devotee of Haitian art particularly that by artist Hector Hyppolite. In 2014, he held an auction in Philadelphia in which he sold thousands from his collection. Much of the art was donated to a cultural center in Port-au-Prince. Demme was also involved in a number of political projects. He has directed commercials for the liberal advocacy group, People for the American Way, and also has directed a video for Artists United Against Apartheid. He also directed a couple of documentaries about Haiti – "Haiti Dreams of Democracy," in 1988 and "The Agronomist" in 2008. He also spent six years making the documentary "I'm Carolyn Parker," which highlighted the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Demme died at his home in Manhattan on April 26, 2017 from complications of esophageal cancer and heart disease at the age of 73. A number of Demme's celebrity friends honored Demme following his death. Director Brady Corbet dedicated his 2018 film "Vox Lux" to his memory. Luca Guadagnino did the same with his 2018 film "Suspiria" as did Paul Thomas Anderson with his 2017 film "Phantom Thread." Demme is also thanked in the credits of Spike Lee's 2020 concert film "American Utopia." Musicians Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine decided their album "A Beginner's Mind" to Demme and one of the album's songs, "Cimmerian Shade," mentions him specifically.

Jonathan Demme Earnings

  • The Manchurian Candidate
    $1 Million
All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction