Actor-director Michael Joseph Kane died of natural causes on April 6 after a brief stay in a hospice in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 88.
Kane appeared as a sailor in the original stage production of “Mr. Roberts” with Henry Fonda, later becoming the stage manager for the road company of that show. He was associated with numerous television programs including the daytime variety show “Art Linkletter’s House Party,” which he directed from 1952-69 at CBS.
In the 1970s Kane directed single episodes of “The Brady Bunch” and “Gilligan’s Island” and was first a.d. on episodes of “The Rockford Files” and “Dallas.”
Off Broadway he helmed Kurt Vonnegut’s play “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” which opened at the Theatre de Lys in 1970.
As an actor he appeared in minor parts on television and stage and participated in the L.A. area workshop Theater East.
Kane served in the American military during WWII. Prior to duty and upon his return, he involved himself in radio and theater projects, which led to his move to California.
He was the president of the Radio and Television Directors Guild during its historic merger with the Screen Directors Guild in 1960 and served many years on the Health and Pension Plan Board of the Directors Guild of America. After his retirement from fulltime television work, he became a faculty member of the Dept. of Theater & Dance at Cal State Fullerton, where he taught for five years.
In a statement made upon learning of Kane’s death, DGA president Taylor Hackford said: “As we celebrate the guild’s 75th anniversary this year, today we honor one of the architects of the modern Directors Guild of America. We owe a debt of gratitude to Michael and the other early leaders who recognized that a unified guild would lead to improved working conditions, creative rights and economic benefits for all guild members. Thank you, Michael, for everything. You will be missed.”
Kane is survived by two daughters and four grandchildren, as well as longtime companion Honey Protas.
Contributions may be made to Odyssey House, 74350 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert, CA 92260.