Zalman King, the filmmaker behind a string of popular and steamy erotic thrillers in the ’80s and ’90s, died on Friday at age 70, according to the Associated Press, citing his son-in-law. The cause was cancer. Born Zalman King Lefkowitz, King began his career acting on TV in the ’60s. But his real breakthrough came when he and his wife, Patricia Louisianna Knop, wrote the screenplay for 1986’s 9 1/2 Weeks. Slickly directed by Adrian Lyne and produced by King, the kinky, soft-lit, taboo love story starred Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke and was a hit at the box-office, spawning a slew of racy imitators.
King went on to direct more films in the same vein, such as 1988’s Two Moon Junction, starring Sherilyn Fenn and Richard Tyson, and 1989’s Wild Orchid, a sequel of sorts to 9 1/2 Weeks again starring Rourke, who was joined onscreen by his future wife, Carre Otis. In 1992, King struck gold with his next creation, Showtime’s carnal cable series, Red Shoe Diaries. The show was like a collection of Penthouse Forum letters turned into video vignettes, all connected by a mysterious narrrator played by a pre-X Files David Duchovny.