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Richard Fielder, an Emmy-nominated writer who penned episodes of such shows as Gunsmoke, The Waltons and Marcus Welby, M.D., died July 22 of natural causes at a Dallas-area hospital, his family announced. He was 95.
In the 1980s, Fielder wrote and produced a CBS miniseries and telefilm based on the life of George Washington, both starring Barry Bostwick as the first president and Patty Duke as the first first lady, and wrote all six parts of the ABC miniseries North and South; Book II.
He also worked on shows including Rawhide, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Dr. Kildare, The Virginian, Born Free, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Police Story and co-created the 1978-78 NBC crime drama David Cassidy — Man Undercover, featuring the former Partridge Family star as an undercover L.A. cop.
Fielder’s lone feature screenwriting credit came on Adam’s Woman (1970), a drama starring Beau Bridges and Jane Merrow.
The son of Philadelphia stage star Mae Desmond and her co-star and manager, Frank Fielder, he enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 17 and worked as a code breaker in London during World War II.
After the service, Fielder returned to Philadelphia and graduated from Temple University, then launched The Mae Desmond Children’s Theater, for which he produced, wrote, acted in and directed plays.
In 1957, he sold his first teleplay, a Western called Fire and Ice, to the NBC anthology series Kraft Theatre. As he stood watching the live broadcast at Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center, a horse that was led onstage by actress Geraldine Page peed on the wooden floor, drowning out the dialogue.
Despite that setback, Fielder kept getting hired, landing writing gigs on such programs as Zane Grey Theater, The DuPont Show With June Allyson and The Tall Man through the early 1960s.
He retired in 2001 to Durango, Colorado, and was working on a novel about the history of the United States at the time of his death.
Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Octavia; seven children; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. He will be buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee in a cemetery behind the home of one of his granddaughters.
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