Forman was born in the Czech town of Caslav in 1932; after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, his mother died in concentration camps.
Jan Hrebejk, a leading Czech film director and a friend and former classmate of Forman's wife Martina, told Reuters news agency the director was a gifted storyteller and a great person.
In August 1968 Czechslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact forces aiming to suppress Alexander Dubcek's liberalising reforms; Forman opted to stay in the U.S., were he was joined by fellow director Ivan Passer.
Forman recalled the last time he saw his father: when aged seven he was pulled out of class to see Forman senior escorted by two leather-coated members of the Gestapo.
Forman is survived by his four children. With lavish costumes, Mozart's ravishing music and exceptional performances from actors Tom Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, Forman scored another artistic triumph.
Forman made his English-language debut with 1971's "Taking Off", and from there directed such films as "Hair", "Ragtime", and "Man on the Moon". Their twin sons Andrew and James were named after Kaufman and Jim Carrey, who portrayed the madcap comic in Man on the Moon.
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