Veteran director John Rich, who worked on a number of TV classics including All in the Family, Gunsmoke and Gilligan's Island, has died. He was 86.
After directing the pilot for All in the Family, Rich spent four years directing and producing the comedy, for which he won two DGA Awards and three Emmys. The prolific Rich directed episodes of Bonanza, The Rifleman, The Twilight Zone and Murphy Brown, as well as more than 40 episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Rich was also a board member of the Directors Guild of America for more than 50 years, and a key player in the 1960 merger that formed it, when the Screen Directors Guild combined with the Radio and Television Directors Guild. He was integral to the formation of the pension and health plans.
DGA President Taylor Hackford issued a statement about Rich on Sunday morning. Hackford called Rich a legendary figure in the history of TV comedy and noted that no one who ever sat in a meeting with John will ever forget his stories about the early days of the Guild or his lovably salty sense of humor.
Hackford added, John began making an impact in the Guild from the very first time he attended a meeting of what was then the Screen Directors Guild. At that meeting, he had the chutzpah to point out that of the illustrious members -- including Capra, Stevens, Wyler and Hitchcock -- who had convened to elect a board of directors, none had ever worked in television. And the very next day, John got a call that they had appointed him, this brash young television wunderkind, as an alternate member of the new board. Our hearts go out to his wife, Pat, and his family at this difficult time.