Director, 'Rebel' actor Corey Allen dies at 75

Won Emmy for 'Hill Street Blues'; also earned DGA TV noms

Corey Allen, who fatally challenged James Dean to a "chicken race" in the 1955 film classic "Rebel Without a Cause" before embarking on a career as a prolific TV director, died June 27 of natural causes in Hollywood, two days before his 76th birthday.

With the May 29 death of his longtime friend Dennis Hopper, Allen was briefly the last surviving member of the "Rebel" main cast. He played Buzz Gunderson, one of the pic's antagonistic tough guys in a leather jacket.

Allen collected an Emmy Award for a 1983 episode of "Hill Street Blues" after being nominated for another series episode two years earlier. He earned a CableACE award in 1984 for an episode of "Paper Chase" and received DGA TV noms for his work on "The Streets of San Francisco" and "Hill Street Blues."

As an actor, the ruggedly handsome Cleveland native also appeared in 1958 films "Darby's Rangers" and "Party Girl" (also directed by "Rebel" filmmaker Nicholas Ray), "Private Property" (1960) and 1962 pics "Sweet Bird of Youth" and "The Chapman Report."

On TV, he had roles in "Dragnet," "The Millionaire," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Gunsmoke," "Have Gun -- Will Travel," "Studio One," "Rawhide," "Sea Hunt," "Bonanza," "Dr. Kildare" and Combat!"

Allen turned to directing in 1969. Other assignments included episodes of "Ironside," "Police Woman," "The Rockford Files," "Simon & Simon," "Murder, She Wrote" (including the pilot), "Dallas," "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (including the pilot and participation in casting Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard) and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

In all, Allen directed about 80 TV episodes and 20 telefilms, including "The Ann Jillian Story" (1988), which brought its eponymous star a Golden Globe.

Allen also taught at the Actors Workshop and the Margie Haber Studios in Los Angeles. He was presented with an honorary doctorate at Columbia College (Hollywood branch) for helping to create their acting and directing curricula.

At UCLA in the 1950s, Allen starred in the short film "A Time Out of War," which went on the win the best short award at the Cannes and Venice film festivals and the Oscar in the category. After graduating, he appeared in some 20 plays in the Los Angeles area.

One of Allen's closest friends for four decades was Emmy winner Eric Bercovici, writer-producer of the 1980s miniseries "Shogun." Allen directed episodes of two Bercovici series, "Chicago Story" and "McClain's Law," in 1982.

"Corey was a helluva guy," Bercovici told publicist Mickey Cottrell. "For several years in the 1980s and '90s, we'd make an annual two-month trip to Durham, N.C., a favorite spot of Corey's since family trips there in his youth. We'd walk off all our sins together, literally 20 miles a day, giving us time to get philosophical. I also sat in on some of his acting classes, and he was a wonderful teacher."

Survivors include daughter Robin Duncan, brother Steve Cohen, four grandchildren, two great grandchildren and two nephews. A memorial will be held July 18 at a place to be determined; please call (818) 409-0448 for information.
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