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August 22, 2011

Reza Badiyi, Set Record for Directing Most Hours of Episodic Television

A native of Iran, Badiyi was mentored by Robert Altman and went on to direct episodes of dozens of popular series over four decades.

Reza Badiyi, a director whose astounding array of television credits resulted in a Directors Guild of America record for directing the most hours of episodic series television ever, died August 20, 2011 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was 81.

According to news reports, Badiyi had been ailing for some time.

Badiyi began his career making documentaries in his native Iran. He moved to the U.S. in 1955 and began directing television in the late 1960s.

Over the next four decades, he directed episodes of dozens of series, including Get Smart, Mission: Impossible, The Rockford Files, Baretta, Mannix, Starsky and Hutch, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Incredible Hulk, Cagney & Lacey, Falcon Crest, In the Heat of the Night, Baywatch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Badiyi also directed episodes of the original Hawaii Five-O and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and was involved in the creation of both shows’ enduring title sequences.

Born in Arak, Iran, on April 17, 1930, Badiyi graduated from the Academy of Drama in Iran. The Shah of Iran, gave him a Gold Medal for his acting, but he soon concentrated on film production. For a time he was the Shah’s personal cinematographer, and traveled with the leader on trips throughout the world.

Before his move to America, Badiyi made 21 documentaries. The Red Cross chose one of them, Flood in Khuzestan, to be screened internationally to generate awareness of the disastrous flooding in Iran. It also earned him the Golden Ribbon of Art from the Shah.

The impact of Flood in Khuzestan spurred the U.S. State Department to invite him to study filmmaking in this country.

After studying filmmaking at Syracuse University, Badiyi moved to Kansas City, Missouri, for a job with Calvin Co., a large producer of industrial fils. There, he met director Robert Altman, who was still in the early stages of his career.

Two men became close, and Altman became a mentor to Badiyi, which led to such professional opportunities as the position of assistant director on the low-budget 1957 film The Delinquents, Altman’s debut feature as a director.

In March 1998, after completing an episode of the sci-fi series Sliders, marking

 his 400th television episode, Badiyi achieved a DGA milestone for directing the most hours of episodic series television ever.

Badiyi earned his final credit as a director with the 2006 feature film The Way Back Home.

In 2009, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Noor Iranian Film Festival.

Last year, in honor of his 80th birthday and 60th year in the entertainment industry, Badiyi was feted by members of the Iranian American community at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.

Badiyi was once married to actress and writer Barbara Turner and was stepfather to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

He is survived by his third wife, four daughters, two brothers, four sisters and two grandchildren.

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