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Paul Wurtzel, Assistant Director on Movies and TV, Dies at 92

Paul Wurtzel, an assistant director on dozens of movies and many TV series, died of natural causes at the Hollywood Hills home he inhabited for 49 years. He was 92.

The son of pioneer movie producer Sol M. Wurtzel grew up in the Hollywood film colony and abandoned his studies after two years at UCLA to go to work for his father at 20th Century Fox. He started his career in 1942 as second assistant director on the Laurel and Hardy movie “A Haunting We Will Go” and moved up to become an assistant director on dozens of movies — including, while he was still at Fox, on 1946’s “Anna and the King of Siam,” starring Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison.

When his father launched an independent company, Sol M. Wurtzel Productions, Paul worked exclusively with him from 1946-49.

Most of the films Paul Wurtzel worked on through 1958 were B pictures with titles such as “Voodoo Island” and “Pharoah’s Curse.”

Following the advent of television, Wurtzel migrated to the new medium, starting as a.d. on “The Thin Man” in 1957. He worked as an assistant director and production manager on TV series including “The F.B.I.,” “The Streets of San Francisco” and “Barnaby Jones” until his retirement in 1987.

He is survived by three grandnieces and a grandnephew; three great-grandnieces; and two great-grandnephews.

A memorial will be held Sunday, June 1, at 11 a.m. at Hillside Memorial Park.

Donations may be made to the Los Angeles Mission or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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