Robert Butler, the Emmy-winning go-to director who helmed pilot episodes of numerous acclaimed shows, such as Batman, Star Trek, Hill Street Blues, and Moonlighting, has died on November 3. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Butler’s family announced the director’s passing through his obituary in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.
Early Days Of Modern Television
With Robert Butler’s passing at the age of 95, the world of cinema and television has lost one of its most distinguished veterans.
Known in the industry as an individual who shaped the early days of modern television, Butler’s work on Star Trek and Batman pilot episodes will forever remain his legacy.
His passing is not just the loss of a very talented legend but also the end of an era of television he helped define.
Butler’s career, which left an indelible mark on entertainment history, spanned several decades, during which he helped shape releases that today’s audience deems iconic.
He was the first director on Star Trek, filming a two-part pilot titled “The Cage,” which introduced the audiences to the Starship Enterprise and its crew.
The pilot was initially rejected by CBS, but as the company liked the concept, they had Robert Butler re-do the pilot episodes—thus laying the foundations for what would become one of the most significant franchises in television history.
Robert Butler’s contributions to 1966’s Batman, starring Adam West, were equally impactful. Butler directed the first two episodes of the 1966 series about the Caped Crusader, which was radically different from the modern iterations.
Butler introduced the audience to the campy and colorful world of Batman, which contrasts today’s dark and brooding version of the character.
Yet, these episodes helped the Caped Crusader transition from comics into television since the series was very beloved for its humoristic take on the budding superhero genre.
Remington Steele And Others
Beyond the aforementioned franchises, which have endured the decades, the career of Robert Butler was marked by versatility.
He helped create the Pierce Brosnan-starring Remington Steele; he also directed the first episode of Hogan Heroes in 1965, the first episodes of Glenn Gordon Caron’s Moonlighting, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Sisters, and Division.
He was also involved in The Blue Knight and well as The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Untouchables, Dr. Kildare, The Fugitive, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, Kung Fu, etc.
Born In Hollywood
Robert Butler was born in November 1927 in Hollywood to an insurance adjuster father and a schoolteacher mother. Butler grew up on the Westside and attended University High School.
Besides his directorial talents for which he became known, Robert also played the trombone as a teen and was a musician in the band on Hoagy Carmicheal’s live NBC Radio variety show.
Other Career Moves
After graduating from UCLA, he landed a job as an usher at CBS in Hollywood, but he quickly climbed the ladder and became an assistant director on live anthology shows.
Rober Butler got his first shot at directing on an episode of 1959’s Hennesey, but then moved on to shows like The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The DuPont Show with June Allyson, and Have Gun — Will Travel.
Butler is survived by his wife Adri, children Robert Jr. and Cornelia, and grandsons Rainer and Liam.