Noel Black, Director of 'Pretty Poison,' Dies at 77

Courtesy Marco Black

He also earned an Oscar nomination for a Palme d'Or-winning short film, helmed several telefilms and worked on many TV shows.

Noel Black, who directed the 1968 cult black comedy Pretty Poison, starring Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld, has died. He was 77.

Black, who earned a Cannes Film Festival prize and an Oscar nomination for his 1966 live-action short film Skaterdater, died July 5 at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, his son, director and unit production manager Marco Black, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The Chicago native and UCLA film school graduate also helmed episodes of such TV series as McCloud, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Kojak, Hawaii Five-O, Quincy, M.E., and the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone.

Pretty Poison, with a screenplay by Batman TV creator Lorenzo Semple Jr., featured Perkins (playing an arsonist) and Weld (the warped high-school girl next door) as an outlaw couple.

“Boy, what a week,” Perkins says to Weld in the film. “I met you on Monday, fell in love with you on Tuesday. Wednesday, I was unfaithful. Thursday, we killed a guy together. How ’bout that for a crazy week, Sue Ann?”

Black wrote and directed the 17-minute Skaterdater (1965), a dialogue-free, Southern California-set story about the romance between a boy skateboarder and a girl on a bicycle. It won the short-film Palme d’Or at Cannes.

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Black also helmed the features Cover Me Babe (1970), starring Robert Forster; Jennifer on My Mind (1971), written by Erich Segal of Love Story fame; the voodoo thriller Mirrors (1978); and the comedy Private School (1983), with Phoebe Cates and Matthew Modine.

Black helmed many telefilms throughout his career, including I’m a Fool, The Golden Honeymoon and The Hollow Boy for PBS; The Electric Grandmother for NBC; and The Other Victim, with William Devane, and Promises to Keep, starring Robert Mitchum, for CBS.

In addition to his son, Marco — a unit production manager on CBS’ Extant and an assistant director on such films as Old School, who was “inspired to join the family business” by his father — Black is survived by his daughter, Nicole, and her husband, Renaud, and his grandchildren Morgan, Cameron, Sidney, Hayden and John.

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