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Wes Craven Dies at 76

The horror legend was battling brain cancer

Liz Raftery

Wes Craven, who directed classic horror movies including A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles after battling brain cancer, The Associated Press reports. He was 76.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio to strict Baptist parents, Craven studied English and Philosophy and went on to become a college professor at Westminster College in Pennsylvania and Clarkson University in New York. He broke into the film industry with a gig as a sound engineer at a post-production company in New York City. Later, he became an adult movie director and claims to have made several pornography flicks under pseudonyms.

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Craven's directorial debut using his real name came in 1972 with The Last House on the Left. He's best known for 1984's Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream franchise, which debuted in 1996. He also directed non-horror fare, including Meryl Streep's Music of the Heart in 1999.

Craven also had a number of projects in development at the time of his death, including MTV's Screamseries and two horror projects for Syfy, one of which was an adaptation of his 1991 film The People Under the Stairs. He was also an executive producer of the film The Girl in the Photographs, which is scheduled to premiere later this year.

An avid bird conservationist, Craven wrote a monthly bird-focused column for Martha's Vineyard Magazine and was a member of the Audobon California Board of Directors.

He is survived by his wife, Iya Labunka, a son, a daughter and a stepdaughter, according to the AP.