Prolific TV director Earl Bellamy dead at 86

Tuesday, December 2nd 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Earl Bellamy, who directed scores of popular TV shows in a prolific career that began with the birth of commercial television and continued well into the 1980s, has died of a heart attack at age 86.

Bellamy died Sunday at a hospital in Albuquerque, the Los Angeles Times reported in Tuesday editions. He had lived in Rio Rancho, N.M., since 1991.

The director, who was particularly adept at Westerns, had credits on almost every popular show of that genre, including ``The Lone Ranger,'' ``Rawhide,'' ``Laredo,'' ``Wagon Train,'' ``Daniel Boone,'' ``Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,'' ``The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,'' ``The Monroes'' and ``The Virginian.''

He was awarded the prestigious Golden Boot Award last year by the Motion Picture and Television Fund for his contributions to the craft.

He was equally skilled at handling situation comedies and dramas, however, and his credits in those areas included ``M.A.S.H,'' ``I Spy,'' ``Leave it to Beaver,'' ``The Donna Reed Show,'' ``Bachelor Father,'' ``CHipS,'' ``Starsky and Hutch,'' ``Lassie,'' ``Perry Mason,'' ``The Andy Griffith Show,'' ``The Munsters,'' ``Fantasy Island,'' ``Eight Is Enough,'' ``The Mod Squad'' ``My Three Sons'' and ``The Love Boat.''

``He did a lot of everything; he was a workhorse,'' said Boyd Magers, a friend who publishes Western Clippings, a Western film publication.

Bellamy also directed nearly two dozen feature films, beginning with the George Raft Western ``Seminole Uprising'' in 1955.

But television, he acknowledged, was his first love.

Other credits in that field included ``Hart to Hart,'' ``Trapper John, M.D.,'' ``The Doris Day Show'' and ``Get Smart.''

``It was wonderful working with him because he made everything so enjoyable,'' said Ernest Borgnine, who worked with Bellamy when he starred in the 1960s comedy ``McHale's Navy.''

The son of a railroad engineer, Bellamy moved to Hollywood with his family from Minneapolis in 1920.

He went to work as a messenger for Columbia Studios after graduating from Hollywood High School in 1935, working his way up to assistant director on such films as ``A Star is Born,'' ``The Talk of the Town,'' starring Cary Grant and Jean Arthur, and ``Kiss and Tell'' with Shirley Temple. He retired in 1986.

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