Ted Demme

Edward Kern "Ted" Demme[1][2] (/ˈdɛmi/ DEM-ee;[3] October 26, 1963 – January 13, 2002) was an American director, producer, and actor.[4]

Ted Demme
Edward Kern Demme

(1963-10-26)October 26, 1963
New York City, United States
DiedJanuary 13, 2002(2002-01-13) (aged 38)
OccupationFilm director, film producer, actor
Years active1988–2002
Amanda Scheer
(m. 1994; his death 2002)
RelativesJonathan Demme (uncle)

Early life

Demme was born in New York City, the son of Gail (née Kern) and Frederick Rogers Demme.[5] He grew up in Rockville Centre, New York on Long Island and attended South Side Senior High School. He graduated from SUNY-Cortland in 1985. He was the nephew of film producer and director Jonathan Demme.[6]


Demme's media career may have begun with a radio show at WSUC-FM (SUNY-Cortland), a mix of comedy and talk radio with the usual sidekick, as well as some music and was widely listened to on and off campus. His career had modest beginnings—starting as a production assistant at MTV, he later became a producer in the On-Air Promotions Department and created the cable network's hip-hop show Yo! MTV Raps (with Peter Dougherty), and directed other projects for them, including the black-and-white rants starring then-unknown chain-smoking comedian Denis Leary.

Over the course of his career, he established a group of actors that he chose to work with on more than one occasion. The most frequently used of these was Leary, whom he directed as a lead or star in No Cure for Cancer, The Ref, and Monument Ave. Leary produced the 2001 crime drama film Blow, which starred Johnny Depp as George Jung and was directed by Demme.

Personal life

Demme was married to Amanda Scheer, with whom he had two children.[2] Scheer later opened several popular Los Angeles bars, including Teddy's at the Roosevelt Hotel, named in honor of her late husband.[7] He was a fan of the Green Bay Packers.


On January 13, 2002, while playing a celebrity basketball game, Demme collapsed and died of a heart attack which may have been related to cocaine later found in his system during an autopsy.[8][9] Actor Michael Rapaport was one of the participants in the game, and missed a taping of the IFC television series Dinner for Five, as discussed on season 1 episode 5 and season 1 episode 7 of that series. Demme was cremated, and his ashes were given to his family.


Much of one edition of the IFC program Dinner for Five was given over to a description of Demme's last night and fond reminiscences about his life, mostly by Denis Leary and the show's host Jon Favreau. This touched on Demme's being a fan of the Green Bay Packers and his fondness for playing practical jokes.

At the 2002 Golden Globe awards show, one week following Demme's death, Kevin Spacey wore a picture of Demme on his suit jacket.[10] He was also in the 74th Academy Awards In Memoriam tribute that was also presented by Kevin Spacey.

His uncle Jonathan Demme's remake of Charade, The Truth About Charlie, was dedicated in his memory.

The 2003 album Blackberry Belle by The Twilight Singers led by Greg Dulli, was written in tribute to Demme, Dulli's close friend. Dulli had been working on another project, titled Amber Headlights (which would later see the light of day in 2005), but abandoned those sessions due to Demme's death. The recordings which followed, fueled in part by the memory of Demme, resulted in Blackberry Belle.

The 2002 film Punch-Drunk Love, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is dedicated to Demme.


Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film
1996 San Sebastián International Film Festival Nominated Golden Shell Beautiful Girls
1999 Emmy Award Won Outstanding Made for Television Movie A Lesson Before Dying (Shared with Robert Benedetti, Ellen Krass, and Joel Stillerman)
2001 Nominated Outstanding Nonfiction Special A Decade Under the Influence (Shared with Alison Palmer Bourke, Caroline Kaplan, Jerry Kupfer, Gini Reticker, and Jonathan Sehring)
2001 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Nominated Crystal Globe Blow
2003 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Nominated William K. Everson Film History Award A Decade Under the Influence (Shared with Richard LaGravenese)
2003 Sundance Film Festival Nominated Grand Jury Prize A Decade Under the Influence (Shared with Richard LaGravenese)


  1. Instantcheckmate.com
  2. "Ted Demme". The Independent. London. January 17, 2002. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  3. NLS Other Writings, Say How: A, B, C, D Library of Congress.
  4. "Ted Demme, 38, Director for TV And for Movies, Including 'Blow'". The New York Times. January 16, 2002.
  5. Familytreemaker.genealogy.com
  6. Susman, Gary (January 14, 2002). "He Was the Man". ew.com. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  7. Baltin, Steve (June 23, 2005). "Invitations are being sent". The L.A. Times. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  8. "Demme took cocaine, says coroner". BBC News. February 3, 2002. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  9. Andy Taylor-Fabe (2002-01-15). "Cardiac arrest claims life of Blow director Ted Demme". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  10. Harris, Beth. "Awards return glitz to Hollywood". Chicago Tribune.
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