Robert P. Cohen, Assistant Director on 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Back to School,' Dies at 76

Robert P. Cohen
Courtesy Jonathan, Michael and Joshua Burstein

Robert P. Cohen

He worked in various capacities on 'Taxi Driver,' 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure,' 'The West Wing' and 'Picket Fences' as well.

Robert P. Cohen, who served as an assistant director on The Breakfast Club, National Lampoon's Vacation, Back to School and Pee-wee's Big Adventure, and as a producer on 24, has died. He was 76.

Cohen died Thursday of complications from COVID-19 at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family announced.

Cohen also worked as a first assistant director on the first seasons of ABC's Sledge Hammer in 1986-87 and CBS' Picket Fences in 1992-93.

As a unit production manager, he served on the first season of NBC's The West Wing in 1999-2000 and on Michael Caton-Jones' Doc Hollywood (1991) and Alfonso Cuarón's A Little Princess (1995).

Born on Jan. 11, 1944, and raised in Brooklyn, Cohen graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan in 1960 and attended New York University. He began as a DGA trainee on Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Martin Ritt's The Front, both released in 1976, then graduated to second AD on The Goodbye Girl (1977) and Love at First Bite (1979).

His producing résumé also included Modern Love (1990) and ABC's Night Stalker, and he taught filmmaking at USC and Western Carolina University.

Cohen also was seen as a passenger in a cab driven by Robert De Niro's Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and was among those who were "mad as hell" and shouting about it in Network (1976).

Survivors include his nephews, Jonathan, Michael and Joshua, and six grandnieces and grandnephews. Donations in his memory should be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.