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'Magnum Force' Director Ted Post Dies at 95

Ted Post - P 2013
Courtesy Everett Collection
Post on location for “Hang ’Em High.”

He also guided Clint Eastwood on TV’s “Rawhide” and in the classic Western film “Hang ’Em High” before the pair reportedly had a falling-out.

Ted Post, who directed Clint Eastwood on TV’s Rawhide and in the classic action films Hang ’Em High and Magnum Force before clashing with the actor, has died. He was 95.

Post, who also helmed 56 episodes of the venerable CBS Western Gunsmoke, 90 installments of the 1960s ABC primetime soap Peyton Place and the 1981 pilot episode for the famed CBS cop show Cagney & Lacey, died early Tuesday at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, a family friend told The Hollywood Reporter.

Post’s feature work also included the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970); the horror film The Baby (1973); the sexually provocative The Harrad Experiment (1973); the Elliott Gould comedy Whiffs (1975); the Burt Lancaster starrer Go Tell the Spartans (1978); Good Guys Wear Black (1978), toplined by Chuck Norris; and Nightkill (1980) with Robert Mitchum.

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Post made his feature debut with The Peacemaker (1956), a Western about a gunfighter turned preacher starring James Mitchell and Rosemarie Stack.

A native of Brooklyn whose interest in the movies was fueled by a job as a usher, Post started out in the early days of live television, working on such 1950s anthology series as Armstrong Circle Theater, Schlitz Playhouse and The Ford Television Theatre.

Throughout the 1960s, Post specialized in Westerns on television, guiding episodes of Tombstone Territory, Law of the Plainsman, The Rifleman, Wagon Train and Rawhide and other shows like Combat. The Detectives, Twilight Zone, Route 66 and Perry Mason.

Post was at the helm of 24 episodes of Rawhide, on which a young, raw Eastwood blossomed as the impetuous Rowdy Yates. The series ran from 1959-65 on CBS.

For Hang ‘Em High (1968), Eastwood -- coming off the Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- starred as Jed Cooper, an innocent man who survives a lynching.

As the Leone films had begun to take off in the States, Hang ’Em High was a huge financial success for United Artists and marked a career-making turn for Eastwood.

Post and Eastwood’s relationship soured on Magnum Force (1973), the second film to feature the actor as maverick San Francisco cop Harry Callahan. Post would later claim in an interview that Eastwood was “feeling his oats as a budding director. He made editorial changes without consulting me.”

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Post also said that Eastwood allowed Hollywood to believe that the actor was the film’s real director, thus sabotaging Post’s future as a feature filmmaker. (Eastwood had made his directorial debut on 1971’s Play Misty for Me.)

Later in the 1970s and ’80s, Post directed telefilms, miniseries like Rich Man, Poor Man and episodes of such series as Baretta and Columbo.

In 1996, in his late seventies, Post formed Pro Bono Productions to showcase the talent and expertise of older union and guild members in Hollywood; among those endorsing the nonprofit corporation was Eastwood.

“Today we’re living in an era where it's a sin to be old,” Post told the Los Angeles Times. “It wasn't true years ago. They were looking for people with experience to guide them. But, these days, you’re discarded like Kleenex. It’s a very serious problem.”

His last directing credit was the low-budget film 4 Faces (1999).

In addition to his daughter, Post is survived by his wife of 72 years, Thelma; son, Robert Post, dean of Yale Law School; daughter Laurie; four grandchildren; his brother Joe; and his sister Ruth.

Services are planned for 1 p.m. Friday at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles.