Oscar-Nominated Five Easy Pieces Director Bob Rafelson, Who Created The Monkees , Dead at 89

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LOS ANGLES, CA - 1990: Academy Award-nominated film director, Bob Rafelson, poses at an editing machine during a 1990 Los Angeles, California, photo portrait session. Actors Jack Nicholson and Karen Black both won Academy Awards starring in Rafelson's 1970 film "Five Easy Pieces." (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
LOS ANGLES, CA - 1990: Academy Award-nominated film director, Bob Rafelson, poses at an editing machine during a 1990 Los Angeles, California, photo portrait session. Actors Jack Nicholson and Karen Black both won Academy Awards starring in Rafelson's 1970 film "Five Easy Pieces." (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

George Rose/Getty

Bob Rafelson — the Oscar-nominated director best known for producing classics like Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show, and creator of The Monkees — has died at age 89.

The veteran filmmaker died of natural causes Saturday while at his home in Aspen, Colorado, according to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

Born in New York in 1933, Rafelson began his career in the entertainment industry as a story editor in 1959. After moving to Hollywood in 1962, he took a job as an associate producer on TV shows and films at companies such as Universal Pictures, Revue Productions, Desilu Productions and Screen Gems.

In 1965, he partnered with Bert Schneider and created Raybert Productions which later became BBS Productions. The two created a fictional band and television series called The Monkees, which turned into a major success, scoring him an Emmy for outstanding comedy series in 1967.

Rafelson also directed and co-wrote Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens starring Jack Nicholson, who credited him with helping launch his career. In 1971, Rafelson received Oscar nominations for Five Easy Pieces for Best Picture and Screenplay.

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Director Bob Rafelson in a publicity portrait from the film 'Five Easy Pieces', 1970. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
Director Bob Rafelson in a publicity portrait from the film 'Five Easy Pieces', 1970. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

Columbia Pictures/Getty

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Regarded as one of the founding figures of the New Hollywood era, Rafelson was also the driving force behind 1969's Easy Rider and 1971's The Last Picture Show. He also helped bring in talents including Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg.

Rafelson continued to direct until the early 2000s, with his final feature film credit including the 2002 thriller No Good Deed starring Samuel L. Jackson. After leaving Hollywood, he focused on raising his two sons —E.O. and Harper— whom he shared with his second wife Gabrielle Taurek.

Rafelson married his first wife Toby Carr in 1955 and they shared two kids. However, their daughter Julie died of injuries at the age of 10 during a stove explosion at their home in 1973.

After learning about his death, the last surviving member of The Monkees, Micky Dolenz released a statement to honor the late Hollywood legend, per Variety.

"One day in the spring of 1966, I cut my classes in architecture at L.A. Trade Tech to take an audition for a new TV show called The Monkees. The co-creator/producer of the show was Bob Rafelson," Dolenz said. "At first, I mistook him for another actor there for the audition. Needless to say, I got the part and it completely altered my life. Regrettably, Bob passed away last night but I did get a chance to send him a message telling him how eternally grateful I was that he saw something in me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my friend."