‘Deer Hunter,’ ‘Heaven’s Gate’ director Michael Cimino dies

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LOCARNO, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 09: Director Michael Cimino attends the Pardo D'Onore Swisscom red carpet on August 9, 2015 in Locarno, Switzerland. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES  — Oscar-winning director Michael Cimino, whose film “The Deer Hunter” became one of the great triumphs of Hollywood’s 1970s heyday, and whose disastrous “Heaven’s Gate” helped bring that era to a close, has died.

Los Angeles County acting coroner’s Lt. B. Kim told The Associated Press that Cimino died Saturday at age 77. He said Cimino had been living in Beverly Hills but did not yet have further details on the circumstances of his death.

Cimino had his directorial breakthrough with his second film, 1978’s “The Deer Hunter,” the story of the Vietnam War’s effect on a small steel-working town in Pennsylvania. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Cimino.

But his emerging career then took a U-turn with 1980’s “Heaven’s Gate,” a Western starring Kris Kristofferson that was a critical and financial disaster.