John Schlesinger, the Oscar-winning director who revitalized movies in England and America in the 1960s and '70s, died Friday morning at a Palm Springs, Calif., hospital, the Associated Press reports. The 77-year-old director, who suffered a stroke in December 2000, had never fully recovered, but his condition had significantly deteriorated in recent weeks, publicist Ronni Chasen told AP. Best known for the Oscar-winning ''Midnight Cowboy,'' he was admitted to Desert Regional Medical Center on Monday, and he was taken off life support late Thursday.
Schlesinger was one of the key directors of the British New Wave in the 1960s. His 1965 film ''Darling'' earned him an Oscar nomination and made a star of Julie Christie. By 1969, he had come to Hollywood and directed ''Cowboy,'' the gritty tale of a would-be male hustler (Jon Voight, in the performance that launched his career) and his sickly friend (Dustin Hoffman), which earned Schlesinger an Academy Award and became the only X-rated film ever to win a Best Picture Oscar. Schlesinger was nominated again for directing ''Sunday, Bloody Sunday'' in 1971. Other Schlesinger films include ''Marathon Man'' (1976), ''The Falcon and the Snowman'' (1985), and most recently, the Madonna vehicle ''The Next Best Thing'' (2000). For years, he was one of the few openly gay directors in Hollywood, having lived with his partner, photographer Michael Childers, for more than 30 years.