87-year-old helped create 'Rifleman,' 'Big Valley'

Film and TV director-producer Arnold Laven, a member of the producing team that created “The Rifleman” and “The Big Valley,” died Sunday in Los Angeles of complications of pneumonia. He was 87.

Teamed with Jules V. Levy and Arthur Gardner, Laven co-founded Levy-Gardner-Laven Productions in 1951. One year later, Laven directed the company’s first feature, the low-budget crimer thriller, “Without Warning!”

For the next 30 years, the trio produced four TV series and more than 20 films, including Emmy-nominated Western, “Rifleman,” starring Chuck Connors. Penned by Sam Peckinpah, “Rifleman” became one of the most successful skeins of the 1960s.

Laven began his career in the 1940s as a mail room messenger and assistant to Jack Warner at Warner Bros. He served as a script supervisor before teaming up with Levy and Gardner.

He directed episodes of such TV shows as “The Rockford Files,” “Fantasy Island,” “Hill Street Blues” and “ChiPs,” as well as films, including “Down Three Dark Streets” with Broderick Crawford and “The Rack” starring Paul Newman.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Wally, a daughter and a son.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more