Monday, 9 January 2017

Jeffrey Hayden Passes On

Eva Marie Saint and Jeffrey Hayden
Television director Jeffrey Hayden died on December 24 2016 at the age of 90. He had been married to screen legend Eva Marie Saint for 65 years. The two had met on the New York City subway.

Jeffrey Hayden was born on October 15 1926 in New York City. He attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After graduating from college he went to work for NBC. Two years later he went to work at ABC as an associate director. He made his television directorial debut in 1954 on the Omnibus episode "A Clean, Fresh Breeze"/"Toby and the Tall Corn", which also starred his wife Eva Marie Saint. He directed one of NBC's early colour spectaculars, The Chocolate Soldier, in 1954. In the Fifties he directed such shows as The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Texaco Star Theatre, The Loretta Young Show, Johnny Staccato, and Lassie. He also directed his only feature film, The Vintage (1957).

The Sixties saw Jeffrey Hayden direct multiple episodes of the classic shows The Donna Reed Show, 77 Sunset Strip, The Lloyd Bridges Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and Peyton Place. He also directed episodes of such shows as Leave It to Beaver, Surfside 6, The Dick Powell Theatre, The Real McCoys, Burke's Law, Route 66, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Batman, That Girl, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. He directed a television adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis as well.

The Seventies saw Mr. Hayden direct multiple episodes of the TV shows Alias Smith and Jones, Space Academy, The Incredible Hulk, and Palmerstown U.S.A. He also directed episodes of such shows as The Virginian, Longstreet, Amy Prentiss, Ironside, The Bad News Bears, and From Here to Eternity.

In the Eighties Jeffrey Hayden directed episodes of such shows as Falcon Crest, Mr. Merlin, Magnum P.I., The Powers of Matthew Star, Santa Barbara, Cover Up, Knight Rider, Cagney and Lacey, and In the Heat of the Night. In the Nineties he directed the television documentaries Primary Colours: The Story of Corita and Children in America's Schools with Bill Moyers.

Mr. Hayden also served as a producer on the shows How the West Was Won and Santa Barbara. He directed his wife in several stage productions, including Summer and Smoke, Desire Under the Elms, Candida, The Fatal Weakness, Duet for One, Death of a Salesman, and The Country Girl. He even performed alongside Eva Marie Saint in national tours of Love Letters and On the Divide.

I often think television directors do not get the credit they deserve. They work in anonymity and their names are generally not recognised by the average person. At most they might hope for some good notices from critics and some recognition from the industry. I find this sad as many talented directors work their entire careers in television. As far as television directors go, Jeffrey Hayden was among the most talented. He directed some of the best episodes of some of the best television shows ever made. He directed "Andy's Vacation" for The Andy Griffith Show. He directed "Like This It Means Father... Like This - Bitter... Like This - Tiger..." for Route 66. He directed large portions of the runs of The Donna Reed Show and Peyton Place. I always thought Mr. Hayden was at his best with situation comedies such as The Andy Griffith Show and The Donna Reed Show, but he did quite well with dramas as well. Indeed, he was quite good at directing many genres, from Westerns to science fiction. What is more, I have heard from those who met him that he was one of the nicest people one could ever meet.

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