Walter Beakel

Legit director

Legit director and teacher Walter Beakel died June 15 of heart failure in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 79.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Beakel received a master’s degree in directing from the Goodman Memorial Theatre at the Art Institute of Chicago after a brief stint in the Navy during the WWII.

A much-loved acting teacher, Beakel directed at the Actor’s Studio and many off-Broadway plays, going back and forth between Chicago and Gotham. While in Chicago, Beakel directed improvisational theater at the renowned Compass Theatre and served as a founding director of The Second City.

Moving to Hollywood, he became director of the talent program at Columbia Pictures, where he was involved in launching the careers of Harrison Ford, Rob Reiner and Cheryl Ladd, among others.

After working for Columbia Pictures, Beakel appeared in several films in the 1970s, including “Coffy,” “Little Cigars” and “Terror on the Beach.”

After starting as an agent with Phil Gersh, where he helped to cultivate the career of Ford, he went on to create the Beakel and Jennings Talent Agency in Los Angeles, retiring to New Mexico in 1988. He is survived by his son David Beakel.

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