Clark Reed Jones, pioneering TV director who helmed 19 telecasts of “The Tony Awards” as well as Mary Martin’s TV turn in tuner “Peter Pan,” Ethel Merman in “Annie Get Your Gun,” Sid Caesar for two seasons and other top live-audience laffers, died Thursday March 28 at his home in Key West, Fla., of complications from emphysema. He was 81.
He began in the new medium in 1941 at the General Electric Co.’s experimental station WRGB in Schenectady, N.Y. Six years later, he moved to New York City’s WPIX, where he directed “The Voice of the People” and “The Eddie Condon Show,” which provided Jones’ eventual entree to NBC, where he became a staff director.
At that network, he directed several episodes of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” the soap opera “One Man’s Family” and “Your Hit Parade.” He also restaged the Broadway hit “Peter Pan,” starring Martin and Cyril Ritchard, for TV in 1955. During that decade, he helmed two seasons of “Caesar’s Hour,” starring Caesar, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris, and went on to direct as well as produce “The Patrice Munsel Show” and two seasons of “The Perry Como Show.”
Major directorial credits in the 1960s include several installments of “The Bell Telephone Hour,” the first season of “The Carol Burnett Show” and the first network telecast of “The Tony Awards,” in 1967, the same year he helmed the TV version of “Annie Get Your Gun” with Merman.
In addition to “The Tony Awards,” Jones directed the “Miss Universe” and the “Miss U.S.A.” telecasts as well as the specials “Night of 100 Stars” and “Night of 100 Stars II.”
Jones directed his last “Tony Awards” telecast in 1987, the year of his retirement.
He is survived by friend Paul Daniel and sister Mavis Little.