Family & Companions
Actor, director and producer Peter Horton was probably best known by viewing audiences for his portrayal of single, carefree Gary on the iconic eighties yuppie drama, "thirtysomething" (ABC, 1987-1991). The lanky, bearded blonde with the charming smile had a sizeable list of TV and film acting credits - however industry followers and credit-readers knew that the bulk of his work was actually behind the camera. As director, producer, and creative consultant for award-winning dramas like "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08) and "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ), Horton proved he was more than just a camera-ready pretty boy. Horton was also an outspoken environmentalist, serving on the board of the Environmental Media Association and appearing in Chris Paine's documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car" (2006).
Peter Horton was born on Aug. 20, 1953, in Bellevue, WA. His father's shipping career took the family around the world, so Horton ended up being raised in such exotic locales as Hong Kong, before the family settled in Northern California - where Horton's buddies at Redwood High School in Larkspur included Robin Williams. He spent his early years focused on classical music, studying piano and working towards a career as a conductor. After graduating high school in 1971, he attended Principia College, a Christian Science college in Illinois, before eventually receiving a degree in Music Composition from the University of California. Towards the end of his college days and after appearing in several plays, Horton began to consider acting as a legitimate career.
He moved to Los Angeles and studied, among other places, at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, one of the city's oldest and most respected dramatic training grounds. It was there he met his first wife, a fellow struggling young talent named Michelle Pfeiffer. In 1979 Peter got his first break when he landed on an episode of "The White Shadow" (CBS, 1978-1981). After appearing on several more TV shows like "Eight is Enough" (ABC, 1977-1981) and "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) and the TV movie "She's Dressed to Kill" (NBC, 1979), Horton landed his first regular role in 1982 with the forgettable series, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (CBS, 1982-83). The show only lasted one season, but Horton was able to keep his momentum going with roles on "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-88) and several TV movies. He also began to appear on the big screen, with meaty roles in "Children of the Corn" (1984) and "Amazon Women on the Moon" (1987). With only a few years of on-set experience under his belt, the ambitious actor had become interested in directing. He was given that rare chance to test his skills in 1985 with the ABC After School Special about drunk driving called "One Too Many" which starred his wife, soon-to-be-A lister, Pfeiffer. The couple would divorce in 1988.
In 1987, Horton hit the big time when he was cast in "thirtysomething," a groundbreaking comedy/drama hybrid that explored the lives of a group of yuppie baby boomers raising families in post-modern America. Long-haired, rumpled, unshaven Horton began the series as the token free-wheeling single, liberal college professor, but evolved into a crisis-stricken father and husband to a wife that none of his friends liked. During his four years on the show, Horton got a chance to flex his directing muscles with half a dozen episodes of the show, as well as one episode of "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1988-1993). When Horton decided to focus his career on directing, "thirtysomething" writers killed off Gary in a car accident early in the show's final season.
Horton continued to expand his production capacities, serving as creative consultant and director for the pilots "Class of '96" (Fox, 1993) and "Birdland" (ABC, 1994). In 1995 - 10 years after his After School Special directorial debut - Horton made his feature film directorial entree with "The Cure," a story about a summer in the life of two young best friends, one of whom has AIDs. Returning to television, he directed a segment for the pilot of Robert Altman's series, "Gun" (ABC, 1997), as well as episodes of "Once and Again" (ABC, 1999-2002) and the short-lived political drama "Line of Fire" (ABC 2003-04).
Throughout his directing and producing career, Horton continued to make regular onscreen appearances, most notably starring in the physically challenging role of ill-fated climber Scott Fischer in the TV movie, "Into Thin Air: Death on Everest" (ABC, 1997) and starring in the short-lived series "Brimstone" (Fox, 1998-99) and "The Geena Davis Show" (ABC, 2000-01).
The lifelong environmentalist and outdoorsman was also featured in the documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car," where he shared his experiences as an electric car driver who had his beloved vehicle repossessed by General Motors. Horton served on the board of the Environmental Media Association and also worked with the Earth Island Institute, an organization that promoted education and activism regarding environmental issues.
Following a successful stint helming several episodes of the acclaimed cop drama, "The Shield," Horton was brought in to launch "Grey's Anatomy," eventually becoming an executive producer of the show alongside its creator Shonda Rhimes. For his directorial work on the medical drama, Horton was nominated for a DGA award and an Emmy for Best Directing. He and Rhimes joined forces in late 2006 to bring the short-lived drama "Six Degrees" (ABC, 2006-07) to the screen, but despite having "Grey's" as its scheduled lead-in, the show suffered from poor ratings and a big budget. It was cancelled in the spring of 2007.
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Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Moved to Hong Kong with family when father's shipping business relocated
TV-movie debut, "When She's Dressed to Kill"
Feature film debut, "Fade to Black"
Debut as TV series regular "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (CBS)
Starred in "Children of the Corn"
Directorial debut, "One Too Many," ABC Afterschool Special
Starred in and directed segment of anthology feature "Amazon Women on the Moon"
Directed pilot and one episode of "Class of '96" (Fox)
Helmed pilot and one episode of short-lived ABC medical series, "Birdland"
Directed first full-length feature, "The Cure"
Debut as executive producer with the NBC movie "Murder Live!"; also starred
Played one of the leads in the ABC movie "Into Thin Air: Death on Everest"
Starred in the Fox series "Brimstone"; also produced
Co-starred in the ABC fall sitcom "The Geena Davis Show"
Directed episodes of the Emmy-winning FX drama, "The Shield"
Co-produced and directed several episodes of the medical drama "Grey's Anatomy," including the pilot episode; earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Drama series
Signed a two-year, seven-figure deal with Touchstone to continue on as an executive producer on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," and as a consultant on Six Degrees (ABC)