March 10, 2005 by

Debra Hill

34 comments

Categories: Hollywood

Debra Hill, a producer and screenwriter who wrote the classic horror film “Halloween,” died on March 7 of cancer. She was 54.
Born in Haddonfield, N.J., and raised in Philadelphia, Hill moved to Hollywood in the early 1970s and broke into showbiz as a production assistant on adventure documentaries. After stints as a script supervisor, assistant editor, assistant director and second-unit director, her big break came in 1979 when she and director John Carpenter joined forces to write “Halloween,” one of the first slasher films to become a box office hit. The movie, which Hill produced, grossed $60 million worldwide — a record for an independent picture at that time — and spawned numerous sequels. She and Carpenter also worked together on the films “Escape From New York” and “The Fog.”
“Back when I started in 1974, there were very few women in the industry, and everybody called me ‘honey.’ I was assumed to be the makeup and hair person or the script person. I was never assumed to be the writer or producer. I took a look around and realized there weren’t many women so I had to carve a niche for myself,” Hill once said.
In 1986, Hill and producer Lynda Obst formed Hill/Obst Productions, an independent production company that produced the films “Adventures in Babysitting,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “The Fisher King.” Two years later, Hill signed a contract with Disney to produce “Gross Anatomy,” and several short films for the company’s theme parks starring Warren Beatty, Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Pee Wee Herman, Mel Gibson, George Lucas, Alan Alda, David Letterman, Rick Moranis and Mel Brooks.
A co-chairman of the PGAwards and the past chairman of the American Film Institute’s producing school, Hill received the Women in Film Crystal Award in 2003. One of her final projects was an upcoming film about the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.

34 Responses to Debra Hill

  1. megan

    I was unaware of Debra’s death until just recently. She was a very dedicated writer/producer and I am very saddened by her passing. “Halloween” has, and will always remain, my favorite film of all time. Debra, you will be missed…

  2. Harold

    Just found out about Debra’s passing.Truley a sad day for all movie buffs.”Halloween” the movie opened my eyes to her great talent.Will be sadly missed….

  3. Rob

    very sad to learn of her passing, Halloween and The Fog are her benchmarks with John Carpenter. No matter how much “behind the scenes” footage is out there now on Halloween, you still can watch that movie and feel that true horror suspence that never seems to get deluted with all the documentary we know have about that movie.” A John Carpenter and Debra Hill production” CHILLS!

  4. Douglas Dickey

    Even though I heard about her passing at the time it occured,it still doesn’t seem real. I was unaware of the trials and tribulations she went through in her carrer because of her gender. Hopefully she has paved the way for other women in the film business in the future. I find it sad that more people didn’t know who she was. Everyone knows the name John Carpenter.People should also remember the name Debra Hill as well.

  5. Robert

    Somehow I have only just now learned of the passing of Debra Hill. I only became aware of it because of the dedication to her at the end of the credits in the new remake of “The Fog”. Wow. All I can say is, how sad. What a great lady. She will be missed by many a person who never met her.

  6. jim

    i watched the halloweeen aniversery dvd and it had commentary and interviews with miss hill.it left much insight on her perspective of how independent filmakers went threw the difficult process of getting the film off the ground. of course her humor came out threw the screen at you. she was a pioneer and ahead of her time. truly a gifted writer and a credit to the industry.

  7. Roy Rivet

    Debra Hill was a true visionary with an incredible talent. Although she did many other films she will always be remebred for the Halloween movies she did. In 1978 she and John Carpenter revived the horror industry with halloween. I and many others will miss this incredible women even though I never knew I’m sure she really was someone truly special.

  8. Patrick Morski

    I am deeply saddened by hearing of the loss of Debra Hill. I just saw the remake of The Fog, and the rest of my party left and I, the only one in the theatre stayed ’till the very end of the credits where it stated In Loving Memory of Debra Hill. I felt like a part of me had died also. Although I never knew her, I can safely say I’ve studied her life through film. From all the Halloweens to the Escape from’s ….. Precinct 13, the list is endless. She and John had made me the person that I am today, through film for the past 27 years. You will be remembered always and forever…your biggest fan.

  9. ED JONES

    Just found out about the sad passing of Debra. Really sad to hear as i am a big fan of her horror films and have recently visited where The Fog was filmed. She has left a lasting legacy through her work and will continue to inspire future film makers. God Bless. Ed Jones. Chester, UK. XX

  10. Joe Currie

    I was very sad when I learned of her passing. A great loss for the horror genre. Debra was a pioneer in the movie industry. She was a real
    gem and will be sadly missed..

  11. Rocky Benfield

    I was never aware who debra hill was until i did a search on her when i saw the “new” The Fog. I didn’t even know she was invovled with Halloween either. Both, The Fog “orginal” and Halloween was and still are my all time favorite movies. My Deepest and most Sincere thoughts and prayers goes out to her and her family, both on and off the set. And yes, she will be missed!
    Rocky Benfield, Belmont NC

  12. aidan

    Halloween has been my favorite movie for as long as I can remember. I was completely unaware of Debra’s passing until I saw the memorium montage on the 2006 Oscars. Truly the world has lost a visionary whose sole purpose seemed to be entertaining others. Heartfelt condolances to her family. I hope they know she will always be remembered.

  13. Lidia

    While watching the memorium montage at the Oscars I was shocked by Debra Hill’s death. How sad. Everytime I watch my favorite horror movie Halloween I will think of her.

  14. Alec Roberts

    12 Months today we lost the Great Debra Hill, I will never forget her and the legacy of films and breakthroughs she created.
    I will always be thinking of you Debra, thank you for your gifts that will be with all of us forever.
    One more bright star in the sky, one less bright woman on Earth.
    Sleep well.
    Alec Roberts (Avid Fan).

  15. Canadian

    Stood in line for 45 minutes as a 15 yr old back in 1978 to see Halloween only to be asked for ID at the door and turned away..But eventually got to see it 12 months later at some run down movie house and to this day i think Halloween is the greatest horror movie ever.Like others here i found out about Hill’s passing watching the oscars ..Loved all those Carpenter and Hill movies and was happy to see she is a contributing producer for the up coming Oliver Stone’s movei about 9-11..R.I.P Debra and thanks for casting Jamie Lee (The Queen Of Scream) all those yrs ago..

  16. tiffani

    I was so sad to hear of Debra Hill’s passing. She was a true visionary and is just as credible and responsible for Halloween as John Carpenter. Not only did we lose Debra but also Moustapha Akkad – They were some of the greatest filmmakers we have seen and they will be truly missed. My condoloscents are with Moustapha and Debra’s Families and Loved Ones….Goodbye, we love you!

  17. Tyrone and Johnny

    I’ve just bought the fog 2006 and heard in a documentery about Debras passing.Debra had a fantastic talent and i loved ‘HALLOWEEN’ it is a true classic! Sorry to hear she’s gone, GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN!

  18. GhostfaceSlasher

    Living in the UK now so I have only just found out about the passing of Miss Hill..
    I still watch HALLOWEEN – THE FOG & yes even CLUE numerous times.I can`t get bored of them…Miss Hill you were every bit a genius as ya partner in crime JOHN CARPENTER….Will miss not having any more of your films….RIP…

  19. Michael Rhodes

    Just this late found out about her passing, at the tail end of the credits on “The Fog” remake. I have to be one of the GREATEST fans of John Carpenter/Debra Hill,(I put the slash like that because they worked so close together on everything). I Own all the Halloween Movies, both “Escape” movies and now both “Fog” movies both on VHS and DVD! Her talent and input on the “Halloweens” was Fantastic. I’ve became Michael Myers for Halloween every year since 1984.
    That is without a doubt the GREATEST Horror film of all time! Rest in peace Debra, You will be Missed!

  20. Connie Phillips

    I was very shocked and saddened to hear of Ms. Debra Hill’s all too premature death while watching the Oscars this past year. As Halloween approaches, I always pull out Halloween 1 and Halloween 2. This year it takes on a different meaning. My positive energy to her family.

  21. Deanna & Hunter Spaulding

    All I can say is wow. I can’t believe that my son thought that it was a hoax when he read something about Debra’s death. We are saddened by this loss as well as millions of other Debra Hill/John Carpenter fans. They are in the top 5, # 1 influences driving my 12 yr old autistic son to be as good as them. Rest in peace Debra, knowing your life here helped inspire this drive to be the best writer/producer/directer my son dreams and is preparing to be some day. God bless you.

  22. John

    Halloween, there’s not better way of saying what kind of artist she was. John Carpenter could not have picked a better person to work with. Every scene will remind me of both Deb and John. These are the movies that I grew up watching, and loving. I will watch these movies until the day I pass. I could only wish that they brought Myers back for one more show in memory of Hill.

  23. Rey

    I recently found out about the passing of Debra Hill and I could not beleive it. She was an amazing film maker who entertained viewers with all her films. Halloween is still one of my favorite films of all time, and she will be missed by me and by all her fans.

  24. Jennifer ann de Lignieres/ J. Conlon

    Yesterday was the anniversary of your passing to the light. I love and miss you very much…Jen

  25. christiansherrock

    Debra Hill was a great producer and script supervisior she was like a gold mine I wish she could be my step mom. ove christian sherrock

  26. Kimberly Hill

    Death is always sad but I am always deeply saddened when I learn someone leave us at such a young age. Debra Hill was only 54. Perhaps it was because my dad passed away when he was 51; it just breaks my heart when someone leaves us too soon, particularly someone of such great talent as Debra Hill. I just watched Halloween again for the 100th time and felt completed to look up Debra Hill and learned of her passing, I don’t know why I never knew before, how very sad. I LOVE Halloween have always thought it is one of the great cinematic masterpieces. I was only 8 years old when Halloween came out and I pray I get the chance to see it at the theater sometime. My local town theater often plays old movies (I just saw the Godfather I and II there) and it would be the greatest gift to get to see this movie on the big screen.

  27. Jake Depp

    I truly believe that the movie Halloween(1978) would not have been half as good as it was without Debra Hill, It just makes me so sad that Debra left us at the young age of 54. I will do everthing I can to make sure people know the name Debra Hill as they do John Carpenter’s name, I hope others will do the same.

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