Steve Carver, Director of 'Lone Wolf McQuade' and 'Big Bad Mama,' Dies at 75

Chuck Norris, director Steve Carver on set, 1983
Orion/courtesy Everett Collection

Director Steve Carver (right) with Chuck Norris on the set of 1983's 'Lone Wolf McQuade'

He did two movies starring Chuck Norris and three produced by Roger Corman.

Steve Carver, a director of action films whose portfolio included An Eye for an Eye and Lone Wolf McQuade, both starring Chuck Norris, and Big Bad Mama, starring Angie Dickinson, has died. He was 75.

Carver died Friday in Los Angeles of complications from COVID-19, writer-producer Rob Word told The Hollywood Reporter. It was initially believed that he had died from a heart attack.

Carver's first feature was Pam Grier's The Arena (1974), a gladiator movie set in ancient Rome that marked his initial collaboration with producer Roger Corman, and he also guided Ben Gazzara in Capone (1975), Warren Oates and Ken Norton in Drum (1976) and Lee Majors in Steel (1979).

Carver's first love was photography, and a 2019 book he and C. Courtney Joyner co-authored, Western Portraits: The Unsung Heroes and Villains of the Silver Screen, featured beautiful shots of Robert Forster, Karl Malden, L.Q. Jones, Richard Roundtree, David Carradine, Bo Hopkins, Clu Gulager, Jan-Michael Vincent and many others.

Born in Brooklyn on April 5, 1945, Carver attended the High School of Music & Art in Manhattan, the University of Buffalo and Cornell University before earning his master's from Washington University in St. Louis.

An exhibition of his photographs led him to work as a freelancer for such publications as Architectural Digest and National Geographic and as a staffer for United Press International.

Carver came to Los Angeles in 1970 to study filmmaking at the American Film Institute, where he directed and produced a 27-minute version of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. He then had an apprenticeship with the DGA.

Carver also collaborated with Corman on Big Bad Mama (1974) and Capone and with composer Ennio Morricone on The Arena and Lone Wolf McQuade. (Morricone served as a consultant on McQuade, released in 1983, with countryman Francesco De Masi handling the music.)

Carver visited with Word to chat about the making of McQuade and his career in 2018.

His résumé also included Fast Charlie … the Moonbeam Rider (1979), starring Carradine and Brenda Vaccaro, and Bulletproof (1987), starring Gary Busey.

In 1995, Carver opened The Darkroom, a photographic lab in Venice where he developed archival techniques to preserve historic images for private collectors and museums and taught traditional printing techniques.

Survivors include a son and three brothers.

Jan. 13 This obituary was updated with the cause of death now COVID-19.