Richard Sarafian, Director of ‘Vanishing Point,’ Dies at 83

Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83.

Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that his goal with “Vanishing Point” was to physicalize speed. “I had no linear concepts for this one. I made the car… the star of the film. I loved the ambiguity of it all, and fact that it makes people think and apply their own value system into it. My only disappointment was that Gene Hackman wanted to play the part of Kowalski, but the studio wouldn’t let me cast him, so I got saddled with Barry Newman instead,” Sarafian said.

Sarafian also helmed features including “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing,” with Burt Reynolds; “Sunburn,” with Farrah Fawcett; and “Eye of the Tiger,” with Gary Busey. He was also an actor — Warren Beatty cast him in “Bulworth” and “Bugsy,” while he appeared in “Don Juan DeMarco” with Marlon Brando. On TV, Sarafian was a series regular on Diane English’s brief 1985-86 series “Foley Square.”

Among his many TV directing credits were “Lawman,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Batman,” “I Spy” and “Gunsmoke.”

Sarafian served in the Korean War and then attended NYU. While working as a reporter in Kansas City, he met fledgling director Robert Altman, who brought Sarafian to Hollywood to work as his assistant.

He later married Altman’s sister, Joan, with whom he had four sons — Deran, a TV director; Damon, an f/x technician; Tedi, a writer; and Richard Jr., an actor — and a daughter, Catherine.

More TV

  • 'Shannara Chronciles' Canceled After Two Seasons

    'Shannara Chronicles' Canceled After Two Seasons

    Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that […]

  • Ignacio SerricchioBET 'Zoe Ever After' Panel

    Telemundo International Studios Unveils First Drama Series at NATPE

    Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that […]

  • Black Lightning -- "LaWanda: The Book

    TV Review: 'Black Lightning' on the CW

    Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that […]

  • EVERYTHING SUCKS!

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases Premiere Date, Trailer For '90s Comedy 'Everything Sucks!'

    Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that […]

  • DEADPOOL

    MPAA: Film, TV Industry Paid Out $49 Billion in 2016

    Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that […]

  • J.J. Abrams Broadway

    J.J. Abrams Sci-Fi Drama Series Shopped to Apple, HBO

    Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that […]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    '9-1-1' Renewed for Season 2 at Fox

    Richard Sarafian, who directed the classic 1971 car chase pic “The Vanishing Point” and numerous TV shows and features, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the influential film in the “Vanishing Point car” sequence in his film “Death Proof.” Sarafian told TCM.com that […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content