Director, producer and television pioneer

John Peyser, director, producer and television pioneer, died Friday Aug. 16 in his sleep at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 86.

Producing and helming programs for NBC, Peyser became involved with television in its earliest stages prior to World War II.

NYC native and Colgate U. grad entered the war via the Office of War Information in New York and went on to serve in the Psychological Warfare Branch of the U.S. Army in Africa, Italy, France and Germany.

Peyser returned to television, this time at CBS in what became the Golden Age of TV, where he worked for his former commanding officer, William S. Paley. During that period he directed live TV programs including “Studio One,” “Prudential Theater,” “The Frank Sinatra Show,” “Danger,” “Suspense,” “Starlight Theater,” “Crime Syndicate” and “Man Behind the Badge.”

In 1955, after moving to California, Peyser worked as a contract director for Warner Bros. and Universal, etc., contributing throughout the decades to “The Untouchables,” “The Virginian,” “Tales of the Unexpected,” “BJ and the Bear,” “Bonanza,” “Perry Mason,” “The Dick Powell Show,” “Combat!,” “Hawaii 5-0,” “Switch,” “Quincy,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “ChiPs” and “The Rat Patrol.”

Peyser helmed and/or produced motion pictures for major American studios during his residency in Spain for eight years. His feature credits include “Honeymoon With a Stranger,” “Four Rode Out,” “Kashmiri Run” and “Massacre Harbor.”

Back in the U.S., Peyser continued his directing with “The Young Warriors,” “Last Train to Alcatraz,” “Stunt Seven” and multiple episodes of many series including “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” with Jack Palance.

Peyser is survived by his wife, Sylvia; a son and daughter-in-law; a brother, former New York Congressman Peter A. Peyser; a sister-in-law; seven nieces and nephews; and five grandnieces and grandnephews.

Contributions are preferred to the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills.

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