William Asher, Director of Classic TV Shows Including 'I Love Lucy' and 'Bewitched,' Dies at 90 (Report)

8:42 PM PST 07/16/2012 by Kimberly Nordyke
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The Emmy-winning helmer also produced "Bewitched," which starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery, and co-created "The Patty Duke Show."

William Asher, who directed episodes of such classic TV shows as I Love Lucy and Bewitched, died Monday at a board and care facility in Palm Desert, Calif., according to the Desert Sun. He was 90.

Asher, who lived in La Quinta and Indian Wells since retiring in 1991, reportedly died with his wife, Meredith, by his side. No cause of death was given.

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Asher's association with Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz began when he directed the pilot of Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks for their Desilu Studios.

That job led to his helming at least 100 episodes of Lucy, starting in the 1951-57 series' second season. Among the episodes he helmed was the classic “Job Switching,” in which which Lucy and Ethel (Vivian Vance) are seen working in a candy factory -- and unable to keep up with the chocolates being sent down the conveyor belt that they are supposed to be wrapping. (Watch part of the episode below.)

He was nominated for a DGA Award for the episode "Lucy's Mother-in-Law."

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Asher also produced and directed episodes of Bewitched, the 1964-72 series that starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch. He was nominated for four Emmys for directing and producing Bewitched, winning once for directing.

He also directed episodes of other series including Gidget, The Thin Man, Willy, The Dinah Shore Show, The Jimmy Durante Show, The Danny Thomas Show, Alice and Crazy. He also is the creator of Kay O’Brien and co-created The Patty Duke Show with writer Sidney Sheldon. 

Asher also directed several films, including Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.

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Asher got his start working in the mailroom at Universal Studios while writing short fiction. His first job in TV was adapting those stories for an anthology series called Invitation Playhouse, which he also directed.

After Montgomery, he was married to actress Joyce Bulifant, who played Marie Slaughter, the wife of Gavin MacLeod's character, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Asher also is survived by Liane Sears and Rebecca Asher, sons Brian, Bill Jr., Robert and John (actress Jenny McCarthy's former husband), four stepchildren, nine grandchildren and eight stepgrandchildren.  

A memorial service is set for Sept. 29 at Desert Springs Church in Palm Desert, the Sun reported.

 

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