William "Billy" Hale
1931 - 2020
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July 11, 1931 - June 10, 2020 Emmy Award-winning film and television director passed away in Woodland Hills, Calif. Hale was born in Rome, Georgia to Alma and William Hale. As a college freshman, he worked as an announcer on an Atlanta television station. While watching movies on his night shift, he was inspired to become a film director. After graduating USC film school in Los Angeles, Hale's student film on the Watts Towers caught director George Stevens' eye. Stevens hired Hale to direct the second unit on The Greatest Story Ever Told, beginning a creative mentorship that propelled Hale's career.In the mid-1960's, Hale began directing feature films and TV movies for Universal Studios. Among those films were How I Spent My Summer Vacation, which starred Robert Wagner, Peter Lawford, and Jill St. John. In a fan letter from a young Steven Spielberg praising Hale's film, Spielberg wrote, "I'd like to express how much I truly admire your masterful handling of the show. Each reel manifested itself as the work of sheer talent. I was totally beside myself in admiration of your tremendous dexterity in directing." Other films and television shows Hale directed during that period were Journey To Shiloh, with James Caan, Michael Sarrazin, and Harrison Ford, Run For Your Life with Ben Gazzara, and numerous episodes of Night Gallery and Kojak. During the 1970's, Hale directed a string of successful television series, including The FBI, The Invaders, The Streets of San Francisco and Barnaby Jones. He went on to direct several award-winning mini-series. Notable were Murder in Texas, Lace, People Like Us, and The Murder of Mary Phagan, winning a Peabody Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series (1988).Among the many wonderful actors Hale directed were Helen Mirren, Jack Lemmon, Ava Gardner, Robert Mitchum, Eva Marie Saint, Omar Shariff, Sam Elliot, Angela Lansbury, Andy Griffith, Farah Fawcett and Michael Douglas. Hale is survived by his wife, Trudy Hale of Virginia, and his daughter and son, Tempe and Charlie Hale of Los Angeles. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date to be announced.

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Published in Los Angeles Times from Jun. 20 to Jun. 21, 2020.
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