TV writer, producer and director Hal Sitowitz died Oct. 31 of lung cancer in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 71.
Sitowitz was best known for a 1966 “Gunsmoke” episode called “The Jailer,” in which Bette Davis made an appearance as the vengeful Ma Barker.
He also wrote a 1973 episode of the oater called “This Golden Land,” featuring a young Richard Dreyfuss, which won the National Media Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews for its exploration of religious tensions.
In 1972, he wrote, produced and helmed the cop series “The Rookie,” which was lauded by the National Association for Retarded Citizens for its portrayal of a mentally retarded boy. He also went on to write episodes of “Cimarron Strip,” “Streets of San Francisco” and “Cannon.”
Sitowitz continued his timely approach in telepics such as “In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan” (1977), based on the true story of a young comatose girl, which garnered a Writers Guild Award nomination; “A Last Cry for Help” (1979), about teen suicide; and “The Face of Rage” (1983); about rape victims facing their attackers.
Born in New York, Sitowitz also worked as an actor at the Angels Theater in Los Angeles alongside Richard Chamberlain, Sally Kellerman and Leonard Nimoy.
He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Myrtle, their two daughters, Orly, a casting director, Eve, a TV production exec, one grandson, his mother and two sisters.