Stuart Rosenberg, most famous for directing the classic Cool Hand Luke, died March 15, 2007 at the age of 79 from a heart attack.
Rosenberg was born August 11, 1927 in Brooklyn, New York. He studied Irish literature at New York University. While in graduate school he got a job as an apprentice film editor in television. He later became a full fledged editor before he finally took up directing. Rosenberg began his career in television, with his first directorial credit being on the short lived TV series Decoy. He went onto direct episodes of Naked City (15 episodes), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (5 episodes), The Twilight Zone (3 episodes), The Untouchables (15 episodes), and The Defenders (19 episodes). He would win an Emmy for his work on The Defenders in 1963.
Rosenberg made his feature film directorial debut with Murder Inc. in 1960. It featured Stuart Whitman and future Columbo Peter Falk. It was in 1967 that his most famous film was released, Cool Hand Luke. Rosenberg received a nomination from the Director's Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures. Star Paul Newman would be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for the film, while George Kennedy would take the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Dragline. Rosenberg never quite matched the artistic success of Cool Hand Luke again.
Rosenberg would go onto direct WUSA, The Drowning Pool, Voyage of the Damned, The Pope of Greenwich Village, and My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys. Although hardly his best film, The Amityville Horror was probably his biggest financial success. It was a hit at the box office and produced several sequels.
While Rosenberg's work could be inconsistent, at his best he could be an absolutely great director. While the quality of Cool Hand Luke is largely due to its stellar cast, the movie would not have been nearly good were it not for Rosenberg's direction. And Rosenberg was hardly a one trick pony. Although not quite the classic that Cool Hand Luke is, Voyage of the Damned and The Pope of Greenwich Village were quality films with remarkable direction. Although he may not rank with such legends as Hitchcock and Kubrick, Rosenberg was a talented director.