Paul Wurtzel, an assistant director who worked for famed TV producer Quinn Martin on such series as The F.B.I., The Fugitive and Barnaby Jones, has died. He was 92.
Wurtzel died April 18 of natural causes at his Hollywood Hills home of 49 years, his grandniece, Sharon Leib, told The Hollywood Reporter.
His father was 20th Century Fox producer Sol Wurtzel, who produced the Shirley Temple classic Bright Eyes (1934), gave Marilyn Monroe her first onscreen role in Dangerous Years (1947) and discovered actor-turned-director John Ford, who delivered the eulogy at the elder Wurtzel’s funeral in April 1958.
Paul Wurtzel grew up in the Hollywood film colony and in the 1930s began working on the Fox Western lot on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue during summer breaks from Beverly Hills High School.
After two years at UCLA, Wurtzel abandoned his studies and went to work for his father at Fox. He started his career in 1942 as second assistant director on the Laurel and Hardy movie A-Haunting We Will Go.
When his father launched the independent company Sol M. Wurtzel Productions, Wurtzel worked exclusively with him from 1946 to 1949 and advanced to become an assistant director on dozens of B-movies through 1958.
Wurtzel migrated to television, starting as assistant director in 1957 on NBC’s adaptation of The Thin Man, starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk as the famed detective couple Nick and Nora Charles.
He worked as an AD on such other shows as Fibber McGee and Molly; The New Breed; I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, starring Marty Ingels and John Astin; and three more dramas from Martin: 12 O’Clock High, The Invaders and The Streets of San Francisco.
Wurtzel served as a production manager on the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone before retiring in 1987.
An assistant director on 60 of the 240 episodes of The F.B.I., Wurtzel recently visited Efrem Zimbalist Jr., the star of the ABC series, at his ranch in Solvang, Calif. The actor died May 2 at age 95.
In addition to Sharon and her husband Richard, survivors include others grandnieces Amanda and Dina; grandnephew Rick and his wife Rosa; great-grandnieces Hannah, Joelle and Lilyanne; and great-grandnephews Samuel and Diego.
A service will be held at 11 a.m. on June 1 at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles. Donations in Wurtzel’s honor may be made to the Los Angeles Mission or the Southern Poverty Law Center.