Prolific TV Director Dies After Brief Illness



Bruce Kessler, who directed many episodes of The Monkees, It Takes a Thief, The Rockford Files, McCloud and The Commish, has reportedly died at the age of 88. Kessler reportedly died in his home located in Marina del Rey after suffering from an undisclosed brief illness.

Below is an interview with the legendary director,

He is survived by his wife, actress Joan Freeman. They were married for 33 years, and had been together for 54 years. The Hollywood Reporter reported on his death,

Kessler served as second-unit director on Howard Hawks’ Red Line 7000 (1965), an action film about stock cars that starred James Caan, before embarking on a three-decade career as a director for television.

His credits included The Flying Nun, Adam-12, Marcus Welby, M.D., Get Christie Love!, Baretta, Switch, CHiPs, The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, Hunter, Hardcastle and McCormick, The Fall Guy, Riptide, MacGyver, The Commish and Renegade, with the last episode of his career airing in 1997.

Bruce Michael Kessler was born in Seattle on March 23, 1936. He and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1946, and his parents, Jack and Nina, launched a ladies swimwear company in partnership with fashion designer Rose Marie Reid.

With the success of the business, they relocated to Beverly Hills, and Kessler would become pals with James Dean and Steve McQueen, future actors who were racing enthusiasts.

Kessler earned the nickname “Little Lead Foot” as a youngster, and when he was 17, he competed in amateur auto races driving a Jaguar XK120 owned by his mom.

Kessler was supposed to ride with Dean in his silver Porsche to a road race in Salinas, California, in September 1955, but “due to a last-minute change of plan drove up with another friend,” Stephen Kessler wrote last month in a column for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Dean would die in a car crash that day.

The Hollywood Reporter

As a successful television director, Kessler undoubtedly created moments and memories that will live on the screen for many generations to come. Rest in peace to a legendary contributor to the arts!

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