Brian G. Hutton, Director of 'Kelly's Heroes' and 'Where Eagles Dare,' Dies at 85

Brian S. Hutton - P 2014
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Brian S. Hutton - P 2014

UPDATED: The onetime actor also helmed 'The First Deadly Sin' with Frank Sinatra and two films starring Elizabeth Taylor

Brian G. Hutton, who directed Clint Eastwood in the World War II classics Where Eagles Dare and Kelly's Heroes as well as Frank Sinatra in the dark cop drama The First Deadly Sin, has died. He was 85.

Hutton, who started his career as an actor, died Tuesday in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack a week ago, his longtime friend, producer Al Ruddy, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Hutton also called the shots on two films toplined by Elizabeth Taylor: the drama X, Y and Zee (1972), also starring Michael Caine and Susannah York, and Night Watch (1973), with Taylor, as a widow suffering from a nervous breakdown, playing opposite Laurence Harvey.

Where Eagles Dare (1968), with a screenplay from Alistair MacLean based on his novel, had Eastwood and Richard Burton trying to rescue a a brigadier general captured by the Germans in World War II.

Hutton and Eastwood were back in a World War II setting for Kelly's Heroes (1970), about a group of soldiers who sneak off and attempt to rob a bank behind enemy lines. The cast also features Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor and Donald Sutherland.

Hutton stepped in to replace Roman Polanski on The First Deadly Sin (1980) after statutory rape charges were filed against the Rosemary’s Baby director and he was pulled from the film. The movie, which also stars Faye Dunaway, featured Sinatra as a New York cop in his final major film role (and Bruce Willis in his first film appearance).

After he directed High Road to China (1983) starring Tom Selleck, Hutton quit the movie business and embarked on a successful career in real estate, Ruddy said.

A native of New York City, Hutton studied acting at the Actors Studio and was brought to California by legendary producer Hal Wallis.

He taught acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse on Robertson Boulevard and then staged the play The Connection, starring Robert Blake. Ruddy helped finance the production in L.A. (also stepping in to act at the last minute), and the two became buddies.

As part of Universal Studios' New Horizons programs — which gave untested actors a chance to direct a low-budget feature — Hutton helmed Wild Seed (1965), which starred Michael Parks and featured cinematography by Conrad Hall.

His other directorial efforts included the comedy The Pad and How to Use It (1966) and Sol Madrid (1968), with Savalas, David McCallum and Stella Stevens.

Hutton’s acting resume included the films Fear Strikes Out (1957), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, King Creole (1958), The Case Against Brooklyn (1958), Last Train From Gun Hill (1959) and The Interns (1962) and the TV shows Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, State Trooper, Have Gun — Will Travel, Rawhide and The Rifleman.

Survivors include his wife, Victoria.

Gregg Kilday contributed to this report.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4