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Robert Ellis Miller

Robert Ellis Miller

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: July 18, 1927 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: director, actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A child actor, Robert Ellis Miller left Harvard University determined to become a director, working in theater and live TV in his native NYC before relocating to Los Angeles. He cut his teeth helming episodes of "Naked City" (ABC), "The Twilight Zone" and "Route 66" (both CBS), among other series, before making his feature directorial debut with the engaging romantic comedy, "Any Wednesday" (1966), starring Jane Fonda and Jason Robards. He scored a critical success with the screen version of Carson McCullers' novel, "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (1968). The picture won Oscar nominations for both Alan Arkin (Best Actor) and Sandra Locke (Best Supporting Actress), featured Stacy Keach and gave Cicely Tyson her first major film role and enhanced his reputation as an actors' director. Thirty years later, the American Film Institute honored Miller, screening this film along with Mike Nichols' "The Graduate" (1967) and Robert Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" (1971). Of his remaining features, "Reuben, Reuben" (1983), which reunited him with "Ash Wednesday" screenwriter Julius J Epstein, probably attracted the most notice, garnering a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Tom Conti.Some of Miller's finest work...

A child actor, Robert Ellis Miller left Harvard University determined to become a director, working in theater and live TV in his native NYC before relocating to Los Angeles. He cut his teeth helming episodes of "Naked City" (ABC), "The Twilight Zone" and "Route 66" (both CBS), among other series, before making his feature directorial debut with the engaging romantic comedy, "Any Wednesday" (1966), starring Jane Fonda and Jason Robards. He scored a critical success with the screen version of Carson McCullers' novel, "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (1968). The picture won Oscar nominations for both Alan Arkin (Best Actor) and Sandra Locke (Best Supporting Actress), featured Stacy Keach and gave Cicely Tyson her first major film role and enhanced his reputation as an actors' director. Thirty years later, the American Film Institute honored Miller, screening this film along with Mike Nichols' "The Graduate" (1967) and Robert Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" (1971). Of his remaining features, "Reuben, Reuben" (1983), which reunited him with "Ash Wednesday" screenwriter Julius J Epstein, probably attracted the most notice, garnering a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Tom Conti.

Some of Miller's finest work has come at the helm of TV-movies. His "Just an Old Sweet Song" (CBS, 1976), starring Tyson, won a Christopher Award and earned him a NAACP Image Award as Best Television Director. Two years later, he collaborated with screenwriters Dalton and Christopher Trumbo on "Ishi: The Last of His Tribe" (NBC), which received the Western Heritage Award. His TV-movies in the 80s included the Tuesday Weld remake of "Madame X" (NBC, 1981), "The Other Lover" (NBC, 1985), starring Lindsay Wagner, and "Intimate Strangers" (CBS, 1986), which reteamed him with Keach. Leonard Maltin praised Miller's last feature, "Bed & Breakfast" (1992), saying, "First-rate performances, and a gorgeous setting on the Maine coast, make this modest film worth seeing, especially on the small screen." Since then he has turned in some TV gems, bringing new flavor to a tried and true formula for "A Walton Wedding" (CBS, 1995) and directing a fine Depression-era drama, "Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue" (Family Channel, 1996), starring Robert Urich.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Girl From Petrovka, The (1996) Director
2.
  Walton Wedding, A (1995) Director
3.
  Killer Rules (1993) Director
4.
  Bed & Breakfast (1992) Director
5.
  Brenda Starr (1989) Director
6.
  Hawks (1988) Director
7.
  Intimate Strangers (1986) Director
8.
  Other Lover, The (1985) Director
9.
  Her Life As a Man (1984) Director
10.
  Reuben, Reuben (1983) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
Began career as a stage actor
:
After college, returned to NYC and began directing theater and live TV
:
Directed episodes of "M Squad", "The Donna Reed Show", "Ben Casey" and "Route 66", among others
1961:
Directed "Amos Burke: Who Killed Julie Greer?" (NBC), the pilot for "Burke's Law"; directed episodes of the series airing on ABC from 1963-1965
1963:
Received an Emmy Award nomination for directing "The Voice of Charlie Pont" (ABC)
1966:
Feature directing debut, "Any Wednesday"; screenplay by Julius J Epstein
1968:
Directed "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", which earned Oscar nominations for Alan Arkin (Best Actor) and Sandra Locke (Best Supporting Actress) in her feature debut; also introduced Stacy Keach and provided Cicely Tyson's first major screen role
1970:
His "The Buttercup Chain" was England's official entry to the Cannes Film Festival and a winner at the Yugoslav Film Festival
1974:
"The Girl From Petrovka" starred Goldie Hawn and introduced Anthony Hopkins to Hollywood
1976:
Helmed "Just an Old Sweet Song", a CBS movie starring Tyson, which won a Christopher Award and earned Miller an NAACP Image Award for Best TV Director
1978:
Collaborated with screenwriters Dalton Trumbo and son Christopher (who finished teleplay after father died), directing NBC movie, "Ishi: The Last of His Tribe"; debuted at the Kennedy Center under the auspices of the US Senate Indian Relations Committee and earned the Western Heritage Award
1983:
Reunited with screenwriter Epstein, directing "Reuben, Reuben", a deliciously witty script (adapted from the writings of Peter De Vries); starred Tom Conti (who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar) and introduced Kelly McGillis
1985:
Sumptuously rendered NBC movie, "The Other Lover", a literate woman's drama starring Lindsay Wagner
1986:
Reunited with Keach for CBS movie, "Intimate Strangers"
1988:
Teamed with Timothy Dalton and Anthony Edwards for "Hawks", a black comedy about last fling for two terminally ill cancer patients
1992:
"Brenda Starr" released after sitting on shelf since 1986; first association with Dalton
1992:
Last feature to date, "Bed & Breakfast"
1994:
Helmed syndicated TV-movie, "Pointman"
1995:
Applied a light and contemporary touch as director of "A Walton Wedding" (CBS), without toying with a formula chiseled in granite
1996:
Directed "Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue", a Family Channel movie set during the Depression
1998:
Honored by the American Film Institute; AFI screened his "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (1968) along with Mike Nichols' "The Graduate" (1967) and Robert Altman's "McCabe and Mrs Miller" (1971)
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Education

Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts -

Notes

"I enjoy comedy very much. I think if you can get people to laugh, they may cry, and if they have experienced one emotion, the other becomes larger. I think that happens with 'Hawks' because you have to laugh at some of the antics; then suddenly, you are gripped by the emotion of what is really happening underneath. The scene in the morgue is one of the trickiest I have ever directed. It's wonderfully funny, very well written and well played. I staged it very carefuly so that it was tasteful, but it's on the borderline. Holding a corpse's feet in the air is, let's face it, a little dangerous!" --Robert Ellis Miller quoted in the press materials from "Hawks"

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