Jonathan Demme has died at the age of 73.

The 'Silence of the Lambs' director sadly passed away in the early hours of Wednesday (26.04.17) morning as a result of complications from oesophageal cancer - something he had been battling for some time - at his home in Manhattan, New York, surrounded by his his three children Jos, Brooklyn and Romona and his wife Joanne.

His representative confirmed the news to Variety this afternoon and announced that the family will be organising a private family funeral in due course and possibly a memorial.

Demme's relatives have asked those wanting to pay their respects to make donations to the filmmaker's favourite charity, Americans For Immigrant Justice, instead of flowers.

The legendary director - who was born in Baldwin, Long Island, rose to prominence in the 1980s with his comedy films 'Melvin and Howard', 'Swing Shift', 'Something Wild' and 'Married to the Mob', before he nabbed an Oscar for 'Silence of the Lamb'.

Demme's last work was 'Ricki and the Flash', which starred Meryl Streep as an ageing rocker who must return home to Indiana due to a family crisis, in 2015 but the flick failed to garner much at the box office and the reviews were somewhat muted.

Following the news of his passing, some of his friends have flocked to their social networking sites to pay their respects and pass on their condolences to his family.

Barry Jenkins said: ''My man Demme was the kindest, most generous. A MASSIVE soul. He lived in love. And rests in peace.''

Beau Willimon added: ''I only worked with him once - he was just like his films: brilliant, curious & original. RIP Jonathan Demme - a truly great filmmaker.''

While Edgar Wright said: ''Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Jonathan Demme. Admired his movies, his documentaries, his concert films. He could do anything. Too many great films to mention: Something Wild, Stop Making Sense, Silence Of The Lambs, Melvin & Howard, among countless varied others (sic)''