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Robert Day, the veteran British director who in the 1960s worked on five Tarzan movies and guided Peter Sellers in the delicious comedy Two-Way Stretch, has died. He was 94.
Day, who also helmed two Boris Karloff horror flicks, died Friday on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, his family announced. He worked in the U.S. starting in the 1970s and retired in 1991.
Day was married to bubbly American actress and dancer Dorothy Provine (TV’s The Roaring 20’s, That Darn Cat!) from 1969 until her death in 2010.
Day directed Gordon Scott as the King of the Jungle in Tarzan the Magnificent (1960), Jock Mahoney in Tarzan’s Three Challenges (1963) and Mike Henry in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966) and Tarzan and the Great River (1967). He worked with Henry again as a producer on Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968).
In a 2012 interview with James Rosin, Day said that he suffered a broken neck while showing Mahoney how to work with a rope in Tarzan’s Three Challenges but somehow managed to finish the movie.
On Two-Way Stretch (1960) — a comedy about prisoners who escape jail, commit a robbery and then break back into jail — Sellers sent Day into a state of panic when he walked off the picture halfway through filming.
“I couldn’t believe it but kept on working, shooting around him as best I could,” he recalled. “Once I finished doing that, I didn’t know what to do. I was really beside myself because I had so much left to shoot with him. Well, after about a week or 10 days, the producers and executives of the company financing the film finally persuaded Peter to return and finish the movie.
“As a result, Two-Way Stretch was a huge box-office hit and made a ton of money. However, getting to the finish line wasn’t easy.”
Day directed Karloff in a pair of 1958 releases, The Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood. He called the horror icon “a very kind and gracious gentleman, quite the antithesis of the menacing characters he portrayed on screen.”
Day’s film résumé also includes Bobbikins (1959), starring Shirley Jones, The Rebel (1961) and Operation Snatch (1962) with George Sanders and Ursula Andress‘ She (1965).
Born in Sheen, England, Day began as a clapper and then a camera operator in his home country, working for such directors as Michael Anderson, Carol Reed and Guy Hamilton and on films including Paratrooper (1953), starring Alan Ladd, and An Inspector Calls (1954), with Alastair Sim.
Day launched his directorial career with the black comedy The Green Man (1956), also starring Sim, then helmed episodes of such British TV series as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Buccaneers and The Avengers.
In the U.S., Day worked on series including The F.B.I., The Bold Ones, Ironside, Bracken’s World, The Streets of San Francisco, Kojak, Dallas and Matlock; dozens of telefilms, including 1987’s The Quick and the Dead, starring Sam Elliott; and installments of the 1985 Jackie Collins miniseries Hollywood Wives.
Survivors include his children Rob and Roberta and grandsons Nicholas and Philip.
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