John Waters

One of the grandfathers of cult cinema, John Waters was best known for directing boundary-pushing independent comedies like "Pink Flamingos" (1972) and the original "Hairspray" (1988). Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1946, Waters was always drawn to strangeness in comedy, becoming so obsessed with puppets after seeing the film "Lili" (1953) that he began performing a violent Punch and Judy-style puppet show at the birthday parties of other children. Gifted an 8mm movie camera by his grandmother, Waters made short films throughout his late-teens and early 20s, eventually directing his first feature, "Mondo Trasho" (1969) in 1969. Most of Waters' projects co-starred his longtime friend Glenn Milstead, better known for his drag name Divine, and "Mondo Trasho" was no exception. Waters' next film, "Pink Flamingos," made him a cause celebre in the dark corners of indie cinema, earning him a cult following for his subsequent films "Female Trouble" (1974) and "Desperate Living" (1978), which he would dub his "Trash Trilogy." With his profile raised and his singular aesthetic catching on, Waters gained the backing to make more widely seen movies in the years to come, beginning with "Polyester" (1981), starring former child star Tab Hunter. The musical "Hairspray" (1988) was an even bigger indie hit-and was later remade on an even larger scale as a Broadway musical and subsequent film remake starring John Travolta in the late Divine's role. "Cry-Baby" (1990) gave Waters' the chance to direct a very young Johnny Depp, while "Serial Mom" (1994) had him working with legendary actress Kathleen Turner. By the time Waters directed the shock-worthy comedy "A Dirty Shame" (2004) starring Tracey Ullman, established stars of the moment like Selma Blair and Johnny Knoxville jumped at the chance to work with him. As he aged into his 60s, Waters slowed his filmmaking output, publishing several books including Carsick, a diary of his hitch-hiking trip across America, and embarked on an ongoing series of speaking tours that showcased his increasingly cuddly, almost grandfatherly persona.