The death has been announced of the director and actor Robert Downey Sr at the age of 85.

The father of actor Robert Downey Jr and author Allyson Downey had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for a number of years and is reported to have passed away in his sleep.

Downey Sr's death was confirmed to the New York Daily News by his wife, author Rosemary Rogers.

Paying tribute on Instagram, his son Robert Downey Jr wrote: "RIP Bob D. Sr. 1936-2021…Last night, dad passed peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson's ..he was a true maverick filmmaker, and remained remarkably optimistic throughout.. According to my stepmoms calculations, they were happily married for just over 2000 years. Rosemary Rogers-Downey, you are a saint, and our thoughts and prayers are with you."

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Born Robert John Elias Jr in New York in 1936, Downey Sr "served in the army, played minor-league baseball, was a Golden Gloves champion and off-off Broadway playwright, all before he was 22-years-old", according to his IMDB [Internet Movie Database] page. He took the surname of his stepfather, James Downey, when he enlisted.

His career as an avant-garde writer-director began in the 1960s. As a filmmaker, he was best known for his advertising satire Putney Swope and Greaser's Palace, a western parable based on the life of Christ. He gave Downey Jr his acting debut as a five-year-old in 1970's Pound.

Robert Downey Jr making his acting debut in his father's 1970 film Pound

As an actor, his credits included the films To Live and Die in LA, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Tower Heist, and the TV series Tales of the City, Matlock and The Twilight Zone (1985). He also directed episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Robert Downey Sr was married three times. His first marriage was to the actress Elsie Ann Ford (1934–2014), the mother of Robert Jr and his older sister Allyson. His second marriage was to actress-writer Laura Ernst, who passed away from motor neurone disease in 1994. He married author Rosemary Rogers in 1998.