Daniel Petrie Sr., 83; Award-Winning Director

Times Staff Writer

Daniel Petrie Sr., the prolific Emmy Award-winning television director who also made such memorable motion pictures as “A Raisin in the Sun,” has died. He was 83.

Petrie died of cancer Sunday at his home in Los Angeles.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Aug. 25, 2004 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday August 25, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Petrie obituary -- The obituary of director Daniel Petrie Sr. in Tuesday’s California section said he received an Emmy nomination for the program “The Man in the City.” The correct title is “The Man and the City.”

Petrie earned his Emmys for the television miniseries about the Roosevelts, “Eleanor and Franklin” in 1976 and “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years,” in 1977.

He was also nominated for Emmys for “The Man in the City” in 1972, “The Execution of Raymond Graham” in 1986, “A Town Torn Apart” in 1993, and for two productions he produced as well as directed, “My Name is Bill W” in 1989 and the children’s program “Mark Twain and Me” in 1992.


Petrie earned television’s Peabody Award in 1977 for “Sybil,” starring Sally Field

An executive with the national board of the Directors Guild of America and with the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies, Petrie was the patriarch of a Hollywood household. Dorothea Gundry Petrie, his wife of 57 years, is a television producer; his son Daniel Jr. is a writer, producer and director lauded for “Beverly Hills Cop” and “The Big Easy” and currently president of the Writers Guild of America West; his son Donald is a director whose most recent credit was “Welcome to Mooseport,” and his twin daughters, June and Mary, are respectively a producer and an actress.

Petrie, nominated 11 times for Directors Guild awards, earned them for the two Roosevelt productions and for the 1984 television movie “The Dollmaker,” starring Jane Fonda. In 1996, he was honored with the Robert B. Aldrich Award for outstanding service to the guild over 30 years as national board member, Western Council member and negotiating chairman.

“Dan was one of the true heroes of the Directors Guild,” current President Michael Apted said in a statement. “He was known for his kind and thoughtful nature, but when it came to defending the economic and creative rights for DGA members, Dan was one of the toughest leaders at the negotiating table. His loss to the guild is incalculable.”

Although best known for directing dozens of series, miniseries, movies and specials for the small screen, Petrie also directed several popular films.

“A Raisin in the Sun,” starring Sidney Poitier in 1961, Petrie’s second motion picture, won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Other credits include: “Buster and Billie” with Jan-Michael Vincent in 1974; “Lifeguard” with Sam Elliott and Anne Archer in 1976; “Resurrection” with Ellen Burstyn in 1980; “Fort Apache the Bronx” with Paul Newman and Ed Asner in 1981; “Square Dance” with Jason Robards and Wynona Ryder in 1987; “Rocket Gibraltar” with Burt Lancaster and Kevin Spacey in 1988; “Cocoon: The Return” with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, also in 1988; and “My Favorite Martian” starring Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Daniels in 1999.

Petrie’s autobiographical “The Bay Boy,” which he wrote and directed in 1984, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Liv Ullman, earned Genies, the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar, for best picture and best screenplay.

He also directed for the stage, including Athol Fugard’s “A Lesson From Aloes” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, in Canada, Petrie earned a bachelor’s degree in communications at St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, served in the Canadian army during World War II, then earned a master’s degree in adult education at Columbia University and did postgraduate work at Northwestern University, where he taught acting.

A U.S. resident since 1945, he began his career as a Broadway actor, making his debut in “Kiss Them for Me,” and by 1950, he was moving into the new medium of television as a director for “Studs” in Chicago, starring Studs Terkel, and then in New York for “The Billy Rose Show,” starring Rose, and the live anthology series “Robert Montgomery Presents” and “Somerset Maugham Theatre.”

Petrie was active in the American Film Institute as well as the Directors Guild, teaching at the AFI Center for Advanced Film Studies from the late 1970s. He headed the center from 1987 to 1995 and served as chairman of the AFI Conservatory Board Advisory Committee from 1995 to 1998.

In addition to his wife and four children, Petrie is survived by seven grandchildren.

The family has asked that memorial donations be sent to the American Film Institute or the Motion Picture and Television Fund.