Robert Butler, the director behind classic television series’ and pilots including Star Trek and Batman, has died at the age of 95.
His death earlier this month was announced in an obituary this weekend (November 11), which revealed Butler died just two weeks before his 96th birthday. “Robert Stanton Butler, revered television director, loving husband, devoted father and doting grandfather, passed away on November 3 2023 in Los Angeles,” the obituary read.
Butler’s career spanned nearly five decades in which he directed many shows including Star Trek, Batman (the original Adam West-starring series), The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O, Moonlighting and many more.
He won three Primetime Emmy Awards during his career – two for The Blue Knight in 1974 and the other for Hill Street Blues in 1981.
Butler also co-created Remington Steele, a series which ran from 1982 to 1987 in NBC and gave future Bond star Pierce Brosnan his break.
He directed several feature films and television movies too such as Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, The Barefoot Executive, Scandalous John and Disney’s The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
The Directors Guild of America paid tribute to Butler today (November 12). Butler had been a member of the guild since 1959 and was honoured with the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award in 2001.
DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement: “Few directors have changed the face of television as much as Bob did — his impact on the medium is truly immeasurable and this loss to our Guild is deeply felt. At ease in any genre, Bob’s pilots established the look and feel of several seminal series including Hogan’s Heroes, Batman and Star Trek.
“His groundbreaking work on Hill Street Blues brought to life the grit and reality of an urban precinct by coupling his unique visual style with evocative performances he coaxed from an incomparable cast, forever changing the trajectory and style of episodic procedurals.”
Glatter added: “Bob’s legacy will live on in the memories of the many directors he influenced and mentored, and the countless viewers who laughed and cheered along with his exceptional work. Our deepest condolences to his family and the many Directors and Directorial team members who knew and loved him.”
Butler was born on November 16 1927 in Hollywood to an insurance salesman father and an elementary teacher mother. After graduating from school, Butler studied at UCLA, joined the Army Ground Forces Band at the end of WW2. He eventually graduated with a degree in English.
You can see some of the tributes to Butler here:
Sorry to see that #RobertButler has passed. Long one of TV’s “go-to” directors, he helped launch such classics as “Star Trek,” “Batman,” “Hill Street Blues” and “Moonlighting” … plus one of my personal favorites, “Remington Steele,” on which he stayed as “executive consultant.” pic.twitter.com/ZQJd4u0jv9
— Jay Bobbin (@JayBobbin1) November 12, 2023
Robert Butler, the Show’s pioneering director passed away on the 3rd of November aged 95. R.I.P pic.twitter.com/tAOkfsZaAM
— Hill Street Blues (@HSBFans) November 12, 2023
The Treksperts send their heartfelt condolences to the family of ROBERT BUTLER, the director of the groundbreaking #StarTrek pilot “The Cage” and a legendary TV director whose pilots included #HillStreetBlues & #Moonlighting. An incredible talent who will be deeply missed.… pic.twitter.com/6RhufKObcw
— inglorioustrek (@inglorioustrek) November 11, 2023
Robert Butler. Moonlighting pilot. Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman pilot. Star Trek pilot “The Menagerie.” And “The Barefoot Executive” for Walt Disney. Was there anything this guy couldn’t do that I wouldn’t like? I loved almost everything he directed. A giant. Will… pic.twitter.com/0YR8v4wUdX
— Jim DeLorenzo (@jhd16) November 12, 2023
RIP to Robert Butler, the legendary TV director who directed the pilot episode “The Cage” of Star Trek, as well as the pilots for Moonlighting and Hill Street Blues and everything from The Twilight Zone, Batman, to Remington Steele and more. pic.twitter.com/MWUvm9g75W
— Cherry the Geek TV (@vanourneyjoe) November 12, 2023
He is survived by his wife Adri, his son and daughter, and his grandsons Rainer and Liam.