Paul Bogart dies at 92; Emmy-winning TV director
Paul Bogart, an Emmy Award-winning director who launched his career during the days of live television in New York and later was a prolific director on the groundbreaking 1970s sitcom “All in the Family,” has died. He was 92.
Bogart died of age-related causes Sunday at his home in Chapel Hill, N.C., said his son, Peter.
Beginning as a stage manager and associate director in the early 1950s, Bogart progressed to directing shows such as “Kraft Theatre,” “The United States Steel Hour” and “Armstrong Circle Theatre.”
He later directed numerous episodes of the acclaimed 1960s dramatic series"The Defenders,"for which he won an Emmy in 1965.
He also won Emmys in 1968 and 1970 for directing episodes of “CBS Playhouse” and shared an Emmy in 1986 as supervising producer of “The Golden Girls” when it won as outstanding comedy series.
From 1975 to 1979, Bogart directed nearly 100 episodes of producer Norman Lear’s “All in the Family,” the award-winning series starring Carroll O’Connor as lovable bigot Archie Bunker and Jean Stapleton as his sweet-natured, “dingbat” wife, Edith.
“Paul was a wonderful man; a wonderful, sensitive director who understood comedy brilliantly,” Lear said Tuesday. “If there was a noble man among comedy directors, that was Paul.”
Lear said Bogart was the “kind of thoughtful director who found humor in the nooks and crannies of things, so you were always surprised to find laughs where you didn’t realize might be possible.”
Bogart won an Emmy for outstanding directing in a comedy series for “Edith’s 50th Birthday,” a two-part 1977 “All in the Family” episode in which Edith encounters a rapist.
In a 2001 interview with the Archive of American Television, Bogart recalled suggesting a different approach for that memorable episode of the series, which was taped before a live studio audience.
Ordinarily, he said, “people shoot [a] scene and then they stop, the audience applauds, the actors go get some water, change their clothes, whatever they have to do, and we start another scene.”
But he recalled saying, “If we’re going to raise any tension here, we can’t give the audience a chance to release their tension until the very end. So we have to do it straight through, going from scene to scene to scene to scene without a stop. So that’s what we did.
“By the time Jean evaded this man, threw a hot pan of biscuits on him or something, and he screamed and fell back, the audience went wild, started to stamp on the bleachers and scream as she ran out of the house. That was the one place where I couldn’t go into the next scene right away because they were still screaming.”
The episode “was a big success and to do it that way was the wise thing,” Bogart said. “I’m sure I did something good then because the audience did not have a chance to release its feelings until the crucial moment.”
Bogart said in the same interview that he had joined “All in the Family” at the urging of O’Connor — “He liked me from the old days” — but he was “very hesitant because I did not like the half-hour comedy experience. It eats you up.”
“You start on Monday, you struggle with a script, it’s sent for repairs. It comes back, you work on it — you fix it, you fix it, you fix it. On Friday you’ll do it twice before an audience. It works or it doesn’t work. Or if it works and you think, ‘God, I pulled that one out of the fire,’ and you’re happy and you go home satisfied, you just have to think that on Monday you’re coming back to start this process all over again.
“It’s endless. It’s the Chinese water torture.”
Bogart’s many credits as a director include the series “Get Smart,” “Archie Bunker’s Place"and “Bagdad Café" —as well as the 1967 TV re-creation of Hal Holbrook’s one-man show “Mark Twain Tonight!” and TV movies, including “You Can’t Take It With You” (1979) and “The Heidi Chronicles” (1995).
Among his films as a director are “Marlowe” (1969), “Skin Game” (1971) and “Torch Song Trilogy” (1988).
Born in New York City on Nov. 21, 1919, Bogart served in the Army Air Forces during World War II as a tail gunner but never saw action.
Before the war, he answered an ad to become a puppeteer with the Berkeley Marionettes in New York, where he met his wife, Jane, the daughter of the puppet creators who put on shows in area schools. They had three children, Peter, Tracy and Jennifer, and were later divorced.
Bogart is survived by his children; his sister, Jeanette Gavaris; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.