Pioneering daytime television director Larry Auerbach, who was behind the long-running CBS soap opera “Love of Life,” died on Saturday from complications of glioblastoma in La Jolla, Calif. He was 91.
Auerbach helped evolve daytime dramas from short, 15-minute live broadcasts to hourlong taped productions.
He began directing “Love of Life,” one of the longest-running TV shows in history, in 1951 and remained until the hit soap went off the air in 1980. Auerbach directed the likes of Warren Beatty, Dana Delany, Christopher Reeve, Roy Scheider, Jon Voight and Jessica Walter during the show’s nearly three decade run.
The TV trailblazer began his career in the late 1940s in Chicago, where he was a stage manager on such early shows as “Kukla, Fran and Ollie,” “Studs’ Place” and the daytime drama “Hawkins Falls.”
Following a short stint on “Zoo Parade,” a live program from the Chicago Zoo with Marlon Perkins, Auerbach went on to become the first director of NBC’s “Watch Mr. Wizard.”
He sat in the director’s chair for more than four decades on many New York soap operas, including CBS’ “As the World Turns,” NBC’s “Another World” and ABC’s “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” for which he won a Daytime Emmy.
Auerbach also served as the Directors Guild of America’s national vice president and sat on its national board. He was named a DGA Honorary Life Member in 2004.
DGA president Paris Barclay released a statement on Saturday following Auerbach’s death.
“Larry worked tirelessly, out of love for his guild and his profession, to ensure better working conditions and stronger protection of creative rights for guild members, and he was instrumental in raising the profile of daytime serial directors, the genre to which he dedicated his career,” Barclay said in a statement. “He was a dynamo – a strong and powerful voice for our members for decades – and we will miss him greatly.”
Auerbach is survived by his wife Gale and their son Scott.
Larry Auerbach with Sammy Davis, Jr. (left) and Jerry Lacy (right) on the set of “Love of Life”