John Rich, who directed television shows from Gilligan's Island to All in the Family, passed on 29 January 2012. He was 86 years old.
John Rich was born in Rockaway Beach, New York on 6 July 1925. During World War II he served as a navigator in the United States Army Air Forces, although he was never sent overseas. After the war he attended the University of Michigan, where he received both a bachelor's and a master's degree in English. It was while at the University of Michigan that he entered the entertainment industry. He worked as a disc jockey for a local radio station. After he graduated he moved to New York where he worked on the NBC radio show Wanted. Afterwards he moved into television, working as the stage manager on various NBC shows, including The Kraft Television Theatre.
It was in 1951 that John Rich broke into directing with an episode of Big Town. In the Fifties he directed such series as Colonel Humphrey Flack, I Married Joan, Where's Raymond, Our Miss Brooks, Conflict, The Rough Riders, Bat Masterson, and The Rifleman. In the Sixties he directed such series as The Twilight Zone, Mister Ed, The Dick Van Dyke Show (for which he won an Emmy), Gilligan's Island, Bonanza, Hogan's Heroes, Gunsmoke, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., and That Girl. He also directed the motion pictures Wives and Lovers (1963), The New Interns (1964), Roustabout (1964), and Easy Come, Easy Go (1967).
In the Seventies he directed such shows as All in the Family (for which he won another Emmy), Barney Miller, On the Rocks, and Benson. He also served as a producer on such shows as All in the Family, On the Rocks, and Benson. In the Eighties he directed such shows as Newhart, Condo, Mr. Sunshine, and Dear John. He produced the shows Condo and Mr. Sunshine. In the Nineties he directed such show as The Man in the Family, Walter & Emily, The Second Half, Murphy Brown, If Not For You, Hudson Street, and Something So Right. He produced the shows Walter & Emily and MacGyver.
There can be little doubt that John Rich was one of the best sitcom directors in the history of television. He directed some of the best known episodes of sitcoms widely regarded as classics. For The Dick Van Dyke Show he directed "Laura's Little Lie"/"Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice (a two parter in which it is revealed Laura lied about her age when they were married). For All in the Family he directed "Sammy's Visit (the episode guest starring Sammy Davis, Jr.)." For Gilligan's Island he directed the very first episode, "Two on a Raft." Of course, Mr. Rich's talents went beyond directing comedy. He also directed the classic Twilight Zone episode, "A Kind of a Stopwatch." It was a simple case that John Rich worked on some of the greatest sitcoms of all time. He also made some of the greatest episode of those sitcoms and some of the best episodes of dramas as well.