Joel Rosenzweig, Director on 'Cagney & Lacey,' Dies at 66

Joel Rosenzweig - P 2014
Courtesy of PGPR Media

Joel Rosenzweig - P 2014

The acclaimed CBS drama was produced by his brother, Barney, and co-starred his sister-in-law, Sharon Gless

Joel Rosenzweig, who directed for such TV shows as Cagney & Lacey and The Trials of Rosie O’Neill — both starring his sister-in-law, Emmy winner Sharon Gless — died Oct. 29 at his home in Richardson, Texas. He was 66.

Rosenzweig, who died of post-operative heart failure, was the younger brother of Gless’ husband Barney Rosenzweig, who captured two drama series Emmys as an executive producer of the famed cop show Cagney & Lacey and wrote for and produced The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, another CBS series.

Barney Rosenzweig reported the news of his brother's death.

Joel Rosenzweig also directed for the CBS family drama Christy, which featured Cagney & Lacey star Tyne Daly and came from his brother’s production outfit, The Rosenzweig Co.

In the 1970s, Joel Rosenzweig attended USC and was mentored by Oscar-nominated actress Nina Foch, who taught classes at the university’s School of Cinematic Arts. For his master’s thesis, he did the first-ever staging of Tommy, The Who’s rock opera.

At age 22, the Los Angeles native staged Tommy again, this time with a professional cast at the Aquarius Theatre in Hollywood and with Ted Neeley in the title role.

Barney Rosenzweig noted that all subsequent productions of the iconic 1969 rock album (both onstage and for the screen) adhered closely to his brother’s original libretto.

Joel Rosenzweig devoted nearly 20 years to California regional theater before segueing to television. He also worked on such TV series as Falcon Crest and Buck James.

Most recently, Rosenzweig, whose father, Aaron, was a teacher, taught government at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas and served as the school’s bowling coach. Earlier, he taught theater.

“Everything you have ever heard that is going on in public education that is bad, it doesn’t happen at Lake Highlands,” he said in a 2003 interview. “And everything that is good is there three- or fourfold. It’s just amazing.”

Internment was Sunday at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home and Memorial Park in North Dallas, which (as Rosenzweig, a huge sports fan, knew) is also the final resting place of New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle and Tom Landry, the great Dallas Cowboys coach. 

In addition to his brother and Gless, survivors include his wife of more than 22 years, Joan; children Marc, Sarah and Gwen; and grandson Mason.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made to the Richardson (Texas) Independent School District Scholarship Fund.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4