Robert Butler, ‘Remington Steele’ Co-Creator and Emmy-Winning Director, Dies at 95

Robert Butler, the co-creator of “Remington Steele” and a veteran television director who worked on such series as “Hill Street Blues,” “Star Trek” and “Batman,” died Nov. 3 in Los Angeles. He was 95.

Butler’s career spanned nearly five decades, during which he directed many notable series, including “Hennesey,” “Star Trek,” “Batman,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Bonanza,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Gunsmoke,” “Hawaii Five-O” and more. He won three Primetime Emmy Awards: two for “The Blue Knight” in 1974 and the other for “Hill Street Blues” in 1981. He also received Emmy nominations for episodes of “Moonlighting,” “Sirens” and “Lois & Clark The Adventures of Superman.”

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Butler and Michael Gleason co-created “Remington Steele,” starring Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist, which ran from 1982 to 1987 on NBC. Butler directed five episodes of the detective procedural series between 1982 and 1983, including the pilot.

He also directed several feature films and TV movies, including “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t,” “The Barefoot Executive,” “Scandalous John” and Disney’s “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.”

Butler was born on Nov. 16, 1927, in Hollywood to insurance salesman Edward Butler and Bea Olson, an elementary school teacher. After graduating from University High School, Butler studied at UCLA, joined the Army Ground Forces Band at the end of WWII and, in 1951, earned a degree in English from the university.

In 1959, Butler joined the Directors Guild of America, where he served 11 consecutive terms on the DGA National Board starting in 1985 and other leadership roles. The DGA honored Butler with the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award in 2001, along with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished achievement in television direction in 2015.

“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,” DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement. “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 is survived by his wife Adrienne Hepburn, his son and daughter, and his grandsons Rainer and Liam.

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