Peter Baldwin, Actor and Emmy-Winning TV Director, Dies at 86

Drew Baldwin
Peter Baldwin

He learned from Vittorio De Sica and worked on 'The Mary Tyler Moore,' 'The Partridge Family' and 'The Wonder Years,' helming hundreds of episodes in all.

Peter Baldwin, an actor turned prolific Emmy-winning TV director with credits including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Sanford and Son, Murphy Brown and The Wonder Years, has died. He was 86.

Baldwin died Sunday at his home in Pebble Beach, California, his son, Drew Baldwin, CEO of Tubefilter and creator and executive producer of the Streamy Awards, announced.

A former actor and contract player at Paramount Pictures, Baldwin cut his teeth behind the camera in Italy when he served as an assistant director under the legendary Vittorio De Sica on Woman Times Seven (1967) and A Place for Lovers (1968), which he also co-wrote.

After he returned to the U.S., producer Sheldon Leonard hired him to work on The Dick Van Dyke Show starting in 1964, launching his career as a TV director.

Baldwin went on to call the shots on more than 500 episodes of American television, on shows including Gomer Pyle: USMC, The Andy Griffith Show, The Doris Day Show, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, The Bob Newhart Show, Happy Days, Chico and the Man, The Love Boat, Carter Country, Benson, Family Ties, Webster, ALF, Full House, Family Matters, WKRP in Cincinnati, Dream On, Blossom and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Baldwin won his Emmy in 1989 for directing an episode of The Wonder Years. He was nominated again two years later for his work on that show and earlier was recognized for helming "Where There's Smoke, There's Rhoda," a great 1972 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Baldwin also directed the Rodney Dangerfield comedy feature Meet Wally Sparks (1997) and produced the 1986 HBO movie As Summers Die, starring Bette Davis, Jamie Lee Curtis and Scott Glenn.

Peter DuBois Baldwin was born Jan. 11, 1931, in Winnetka, Illinois, where he attended New Trier High School. During his senior year at Stanford University, he was discovered by a talent scout and signed by Paramount as one of its "Golden Circle" of newcomers, which at one time included William Holden, Patricia Morison, Susan Hayward and Robert Preston.

Baldwin then appeared in Billy Wilder's Stalag 17 (1953) — his character is shot by waiting guards as he and another prisoner emerge from a tunnel at the beginning of the movie — George Seaton's Little Boy Lost (1953) and Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956).

After serving three years in the U.S. Navy as an air intelligence officer, Baldwin returned to Hollywood and was in Anthony Mann’s The Tin Star (1957) opposite Henry Fonda and Anthony Perkins, in Seaton’s Teacher’s Pet (1958), starring Clark Gable and Doris Day, and in the sci-fi cult classic I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958).

Baldwin starred alongside Julie Harris on a national tour of the Broadway play The Warm Peninsula in 1958, then headed to Italy for starring roles in Roberto Rossellini’s Escape by Night (1960), Dino Risi’s Love in Rome (1960) and Francesco Rosi’s The Mattei Affair (1972).

He wrote, produced and co-directed Some Sort of Cage (1963), a docudrama about the Santa Monica rehab facility Synanon House that won first prize at the Venice Film Festival.

After he retired, Baldwin moved to Pebble Beach and served as a board member of the Monterey Bay Stanford Club, commodore and secretary of the Stillwater Yacht Club and on the board of directors of the Pacific Repertory Theatre in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Baldwin was a rabid Chicago Cubs fan, and when his team finally won the World Series last year, he said, "I waited 85 years for this moment."

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife, Terry; daughters Amy and Eleonora; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

comments powered by Disqus