Peter Werner, Oscar winner and TV director known for ‘Moonlighting,’ dies at 76

A woman with blonde hair in a white suit holds an umbrella while talking to a man standing in front of a TV camera
Peter Werner directed Cybill Shepherd in “Moonlighting” in 1985.
(ABC Photo Archives / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Peter Werner, whose directing work spanned several hit television series including “Moonlighting,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Justified,” has died. He was 76.

In an email shared with the Hollywood Reporter, TV producer Tom Werner ( “That ‘70s Show”) said his brother died Tuesday morning in Wilmington, N.C.

“He had a torn aorta that the doctors weren’t able to repair. So sudden,” Tom Werner told THR.


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Peter Werner, born Jan. 17, 1947, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1968. He continued his studies at Antioch University, where he earned his master’s degree in teaching, and at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

Werner launched his directing career at AFI, graduating with more than just another master’s degree to his name. While a student, he directed the 1975 short film “In the Region of Ice,” based on Joyce Carol Oates’ short story of the same name. The short, which starred Fionnula Flanagan, won the live-action short Oscar in 1977.

A short film brought Werner to Oscars glory, but the director mainly focused his talents on television. After his Oscars win, he landed directing gigs on a range of TV projects throughout the ‘70s, including the TV movie “Aunt Mary.”

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In 1985, he directed several episodes of the Emmy-winning TV series “Moonlighting,” starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. He earned an Emmy nomination in 1986 for his directing on the series.

From the ‘90s to early aughts, Werner directed dozens of TV movies including “Blue Rodeo” and “The Good Policeman.” In the last decade, Werner directed for the TV series “Unforgettable,” “Justified,” “Bull,” “UnREAL” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

By the end of his career, Werner earned a total of four Emmy nominations and was honored with a Peabody Award for his work on “LBJ: The Early Years.”


In addition to his brother, Werner is survived by his wife, Kedren, and children Lillie, Katharine and James, according to THR.