Robert Butler, director of the pilot shows for Star Trek, Batman, and Hogan’s Heroes, has died. He was 95. The renowned director died on November 3 in Los Angeles, as confirmed by his family in a Legacy obituary.
Beginning in 1956, Butler’s career spanned over five decades. In the 53 years that followed, Robert Butler directed a number of beloved series. His works include Hennesey, Star Trek, Batman, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, and Hawaii Five-O.
Robert Butler earned many accolades throughout his career, including two Emmy Awards for outstanding directing. After earning the first in 1973 for The Blue Knight pilot, Butler won the second in 1981 for Hill Street Blues. Butler also received Emmy nominations for episodes of Moonlighting, Sirens, and Lois & Clark The Adventures of Superman.
Alongside Michael Gleason, Robert Butler co-created Remington Steele starring Pierce Brosnan. The series ran from 1982 to 1987 on NBC. Butler directed five episodes of the detective procedural, including the pilot.
After studying at UCLA, Butler joined the Army Ground Forces Band at the end of WWII before earning his English degree in 1951. Eight years later, Butler joined the Directors Guild of America. In 2001, he earned the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award and in 2015 was awarded the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished achievement in television direction.
DGA President Shares Heartfelt Tribute to Robert Butler
In the wake of Robert Butler’s death, DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter penned a heartfelt tribute to the late director. “Few directors have changed the face of television as much as Bob did, Glatter said in a statement. “His impact on the medium is truly immeasurable and this loss to our Guild is deeply felt. At ease in any genre, Bob’s pilots established the look and feel of several seminal series including Hogan’s Heroes, Batman and Star Trek.”
“His groundbreaking work on Hill Street Blues brought to life the grit and reality of an urban precinct by coupling his unique visual style with evocative performances he coaxed from an incomparable cast, forever changing the trajectory and style of episodic procedurals. It was for his unparalleled influence in television that the Guild selected Bob for our inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction in 2015.”
“Despite a demanding career, Bob passionately served at the highest levels of Guild leadership for more than 30 years, advocating for the creative rights of members on the Western Directors Council and as a National Board member, including two terms as 5th Vice President. As a trustee for the Directors Guild Foundation for more than 35 years, Bob ensured that DGA members had access to emergency financial support at critical moments in their careers.”
“Bob’s legacy will live on in the memories of the many directors he influenced and mentored, and the countless viewers who laughed and cheered along with his exceptional work. Our deepest condolences to his family and the many Directors and Directorial team members who knew and loved him.”
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