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April 23, 2012

Paul Bogart, Primetime Emmy-Winning Director

Bogart, who began his career in the era of live television, won five Primetime Emmys.

Paul Bogart, a Primetime Emmy-winning director known for some of the most popular television series of the 1970s and ’80s, died May 15, 2012, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was 92.

Originally a puppeteer, Bogart began working in television during the medium’s infancy and developed his craft in the high-pressure era of live production.

Over the course of his celebrated career, he directed game shows, dramas and comedies

He was born Paul Bogoff November 21, 1919, in New York City. His parents divorced when he was a child. He grew up with his mother and two sisters, and the family relied on charity for survival.

His parents divorced when he was a child, and he, his mother and his two sisters depended on charity to survive. He developed a taste for show business by stealing money to go to the movies. After graduating from high school, without the means to afford college, he found work as a printer. During that time he answered an ad for a job as a puppeteer that required no experience. He then became part of a traveling marionette troupe.

During World War II he served in the Army Air Forces, after which he resumed his work with marionettes while continuing to work other jobs.

Through a friend he learned about a possible job at NBC. After bluffing his way through the interview process, he was brought to the set of the comedy-variety show Broadway Open House and introduced to the floor manager during a commercial break. The floor manager handed Bogart his earphones and left for another set.

Left to figure things out on the fly, Bogart figured out that realized the voice in his earphones was that of the director in the control booth and that his job was to convey the instructions to the actors via hand signals, which he made up

Bogart rose through the directing ranks via shows like Today and Howdy Doody, and eventually directed live dramas on shows such as The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, Kraft Theatre and The United States Steel Hour. An episode of The Goodyear Playhouse led to the drama series The Defenders.

Over the ensuing years his credits included numerous series and made-for-television movies and miniseries, among them Get Smart, All in the Family, CBS Playhouse, Alice, The Adams Chronicles and The Golden Girls. His final credit was the 1995 TV movie The Heidi Chronicles.

His feature films included Marlowe, Cancel My Reservation, Class of ’44 and Torch Song Trilogy.

Bogart earned 17 Primetime Emmy nominations and won five times. His wins included a memorable episode of All in the Family in a man posing as a police detective attempts to sexually assault Edith Bunker, played by Jean Stapleton, on her 50th birthday. He also garnered 10 Directors Guild of America awards and won three times, all for All in the Family.

Bogart married Alma Jane Gitnick in 1941; they divorced in the 1970s. Survivors include a sister, a son, two daughters, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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