Family & Companions
After starting his career as a writer for CBS radio, Rod Amateau worked his way up the 20th Century Fox ladder from junior writer to test director to second-unit director to dialogue director before finally making his feature directorial debut with "The Bushwackers" (1952), a Western of interest mostly for the sermonizing in his (and Tom Gries') script, which offered parallels to the political climate in America during the post-Civil War and post-World War II eras. Though he directed another film that year ("Monsoon"), he would not return to features for 17 years, carving out instead a substantial career as a producer-director-writer of TV series, beginning with "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" (CBS, 1950-58).
Despite backing a few duds (i.e., "The Charlie Farrell Show," CBS 1956; "Peter Loves Mary," CBS 1960-61), Amateau boasted an impressive track record during the 1950s and 60s with his high-profile involvement in hits like "Private Secretary" (CBS, 1953-57), "Dobie Gillis" (CBS, 1959-63), "Mr. Ed" (syndicated 1960-61; CBS, 1961-66) and "The Patty Duke Show" (ABC, 1963-66), not to mention directing the pilot episode of "Gilligan's Island" for CBS in 1964. He was a dominant force behind the short-lived "My Mother the Car" (NBC, 1965-66) and the even shorter-lived "O.K. Crackerby" (ABC, 1965-66) and directed a couple of unsuccessful pilots ("Where There's Smokey," CBS 1966, starring Soupy Sales; "Weekend," NBC 1967) before returning to features.
Amateau's sitcom success did not translate to the big screen comedies he wrote and/or directed ("Hook, Line and Sinker" 1969; "The Statue" 1970; "Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You" 1971; and "Where Does It Hurt?" 1972). Ironically, his most successful films were two thrillers, "The Wilby Conspiracy" (1975, which he co-adapted and directed the action sequences) and Sam Peckinpah's "The Osterman Weekend" (1983, on which he served as second unit director). He scored one more big TV hit as a supervising producer and director of "The Dukes of Hazzard" (CBS, 1979-1985) and also wrote episodes for "The Fall Guy" (ABC, 1981-86), but clearly his batting average was slipping as his subsequent string of unsold pilots attests. Amateau produced, helmed and co-scripted the disappointing "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie" (1987), his last directorial credit. Rod Amateau died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage on June 29, 2003 in Los Angeles.
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Special Thanks (Special)
Served in US Army
Produced TV series, "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" (CBS), also directed episodes
Served as dialogue director for the film noir, "Cry Danger"
Directed first feature, "The Bushwhackers"; also co-scripted
Directed the pilot episode of "Gilligan's Island" (CBS)
Wrote screenplay for George Marshall's "Hook, Line & Sinker", starring Jerry Lewis
Returned to feature directing with "The Statue", starring David Niven
Wrote and directed "Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You"
Produced, directed and co-wrote (with Budd Robinson) "Where Does It Hurt?", adapted from his and Robinson's novel "The Operator"; also starred Niven
Co-adapted and served as second unit director (action sequences) for Ralph Nelson's "The Wilby Conspiracy", a political thriller set in South Africa starring Sidney Poitier
Produced and directed episodes of "Supertrain" (NBC), an expensive bust of a series
Handled second unit director duties on "The Osterman Weekend", directed by Sam Peckinpah
Produced, directed and co-wrote "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie"
Wrote the story, "The Adventures of Tom Mix and Wyatt Earp in Holywood", on which Blake Edwards based his screenplay for "Sunset"
Last credit (to date) as producer on the NBC TV-movie "Swimsuit"