RIP: Robert Butler

Robert Butler, the award winning director and writer, died on November 3, 2023.  Mr. Butler was 95.

Mr. Butler began his career in entertainment as a CBS usher after graduating from UCLA with a degree in English.  Robert Butler also worked as a production clerk, stage manager, before getting the job as an associate director where he worked with mentor directors such as John Frankenheimer and Arthur Penn.

Mr. Butler’s first directing job was for the television series Hennesey.  Robert Butler would direct television and feature films for the rest of his career.  Mr. Butler became known as the go-to guy for directing television pilots which set the tone for the series.  Some of the pilots that Robert Butler directed include: Hogan’s Heroes (1965), Star Trek (1966), Batman (1966), The Blue Knight (1973, TV’s first mini-series), Hill Street Blues (1978), Moonlighting (1985), Sisters (1991) and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993).

Mr. Clark was an award-winning director…

  • 1974 Winner Primetime Emmy Director of the Year – The Blue Knight
  • 1974 Winner Primetime Emmy Best Directing in Drama – A Single Program of a Series with Continuing Characters and/or Theme – The Blue Knight
  • 1981 Winner Primetime Emmy Outstanding Directing in a Drama SeriesHill Street Blues premiere episode
  • 1982 Winner DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series – Hill Street Blues premiere
  • 2001 Winner Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award
  • 2015 Winner Lifetime Achievement Award – Television Direction

Mr. Butler was also the co-creator of the television series Remington Steele.

Some of the television shows Robert Butler directed include: Hennesey (3 episodes); The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis; The DuPont Show with June Allyson (5 episodes); Peter Loves Mary (2 episodes); Have Gun – Will Travel; Bonanza; The Dick Van Dyke Show (2 episodes); The Gertrude Berg Show (2 episodes); The Rifleman; Follow the Sun (3 episodes); The Detectives (5 episodes); Stoney Burke (2 episodes); The Untouchables (7 episodes); Dr. Kildare (2 episodes); The Greatest Show on Earth (2 episodes); Ben Casey (3 episodes); The Lieutenant (2 episodes); The Twilight Zone (2 episodes); The Defenders (2 episodes); The Virginian; Mister Roberts (4 episodes); Hogan’s Heroes (5 episodes); The Fugitive (6 episodes); Batman (6 episodes); Shane; Star Trek (3 episodes); I Spy (4 episodes); The Invaders (3 episodes); N.Y.P.D. (2 episodes); Judd for the Defense (2 episodes); Ironside; Cimarron Strip (2 episodes); The Felony Squad (3 episodes); Mission Impossible; Then Came Bronson; Lancer (4 episodes); Death Takes a Holiday; Nichols; Gunsmoke (3 episodes); Hawaii 5-0; Kung Fu (4 episodes); The Blue Knight; The Waltons (3 episodes); Columbo (2 episodes); The Magical World of Disney (12 episodes); Insight (4 episodes); Hill Street Blues (6 episodes); Remington Steele (5 episodes); Moonlighting; Out on a Limb (2 episodes); Sisters (2 episodes); Sirens (2 episodes) and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (2 episodes).

Some of the feature films Robert Butler include: Guns in Leather; The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes; The Barefoot Executive; Now You See Him, Now You Don’t; Hot Lead and Cold Feet; Night of the Juggler and Turbulence.

It’s difficult for me to pick my favorite show that Robert Butler directed because he helmed so many that I watched and enjoyed.  My sentimental favorite is probably the premiere of Batman.  That show brings back so many good memories.  We all anticipated the premiere and it was the talk of our elementary school the next day.  Mr. Butler also directed a Twilight Zone episode, The Encounter, that was kept out of syndication in the United States until 2016 for “overt racism and revisionist history”.  It’s a testimony to Robert Butler’s talent and professionalism that he directed so many (and often multiple episodes) of the best television shows in the years he worked.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Robert Butler’s family, friends and fans.