Saturday, September 10, 2016

Leslie H. Martinson R.I.P.

Jack Kelly, Leslie H. Martinson, and Roger Moore
on the set of Maverick
Leslie H. Martinson, a prolific television director who directed Batman (1966), died on September 3 2016 at the age of 101.

Leslie H. Martinson was born on January 16 1915 in Boston, Massachusetts. He started out in journalism, working for the Boston Evening Transcript. In 1936 he started working as a script clerk for MGM. In the late Forties he served as a script supervisor on such films as The Yearling (1946), Fiesta (1947), Easter Parade (1948), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), and Summer Stock (1950). On Take Me Out to the Ball Game and Summer Stock he also served as an assistant director.

In the Fifties he served as script supervisor on Go for Broke! (1951), The Tall Target (1951), Split Second (1953), and Vice Squad (1953). He made his directorial debut on episodes of the TV show City Detective in 1953. He directed episodes of such shows Chevron Theatre, The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, The Roy Rogers Show, The Mickey Rooney Show, Topper, The Millionaire, Sugarfoot, Colt .45, Bourbon Street Beat, Cheyenne, Maverick, Hawaiian Eye, Lawman, and The Roaring 20s. He directed the feature films
The Atomic Kid (1954), Hot Rod Girl (1956), and Hot Rod Rumble (1957).

In the Sixties Mr. Martinson directed the feature films Lad: A Dog (1962), Black Gold (1962), PT 109 (1963), For Those Who Think Young (1964), Batman (1966), and Fathom (1967). He directed episodes of such shows as Room For One More, 77 Sunset Strip, Temple Houston, No Time for Sergeants, The Double Life of Henry Phyfe, Run for Your Life, Batman, Mister Roberts, The Green Hornet, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

In the Seventies he directed such shows as Alias Smith and Jones, Longstreet, Ironside, Room 222, Mission: Impossible, Love American Style, The Brady Bunch, The Manhunter, Mannix, The Six Million Dollar Man, Barnaby Jones, Wonder Woman, Young Maverick, Dallas, and Quincy M.E. He directed the TV movie Rescue from Gilligan's Island. He directed the feature films Mrs. Pollifax-Spy (1971), Escape from Angola (1976), and Missile X - Geheimauftrag Neutronenbombe (1977).

In the Eighties he directed episodes of such shows as CHiPs, Private Benjamin, The Powers of Matthew Star, Fantasy Island, Mannimal, Airwolf, and Small Wonder.

Leslie H. Martinson was not simply an extremely prolific television director, but a very good one as well. Indeed, he directed what I considered the three best episodes of Maverick ever: "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres", "Gun-Shy", and "Hadley's Hunters". He also directed classic episodes of such diverse shows as Lawman, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Green Hornet. His feature film career was a bit more uneven than his television career, but he still did some very good work in film.  Both PT 109 and Batman are classics of the Sixties. While the average American might not recognise his name, he or she has probably seen several samples of Mr. Martin's work over the years. 

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