John Patterson, 64; Director Noted for Work on ‘Sopranos’

Times Staff Writer

John Patterson, a prolific director who worked on a number of popular television series and won a Directors Guild of America award for an episode of “The Sopranos,” has died. He was 64.

Patterson died of prostate cancer at his home in Topanga, said friend David Chase, the creator of that HBO series.

During his 40-year career, Patterson directed movies made for television -- most often crime stories and thrillers -- but built his reputation on top-rated dramatic series. Starting in the mid-1970s, he worked on episodes of “The Rockford Files,” “Magnum P.I.,” “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “Law & Order” and “Six Feet Under.”

When Patterson was directing, “the camera was always in the right place,” Chase told The Times on Friday. “John was subtle and expert in every way. They called him ‘the Dutch master,’ even though he wasn’t Dutch.”


Patterson worked on 13 episodes of the acclaimed series about New Jersey gangsters, including the final episode for each of the five seasons to date. His efforts garnered him Emmy nominations in 2000 and 2003, and he won the Directors Guild award for “Whitecaps,” the fourth season’s finale.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Patterson graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He left school for a time at age 19 and joined the Air Force, navigating B-52 bombers for the Strategic Air Command.

After finishing college, he earned a master’s degree at Stanford University and then moved to Los Angeles.

Patterson is survived by his companion, Andrea Makshanof; a daughter, Mary; a son, Charles; two brothers; and two sisters. His marriage to Casey Kelley ended in divorce.


A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Mermaid Tavern, 20421 Callon Drive, Topanga.

Contributions in Patterson’s name may be made to KPFK-FM (90.7), 3729 Cahuenga Blvd. W., North Hollywood, CA 91604.