Veteran directors Gene Reynolds and John Rich have been chosen to receive the Directors Guild of America’s Robert B. Aldrich award, the guild’s highest honor.
Reynolds and Rich now add their names to a prestigious list of past recipients that includes Robert Wise, Sheldon Leonard, Gilbert Cates, George Schaefer and George Sidney.
They will receive their awards — given for extraordinary service to the guild and its membership — during the 45th annual DGA awards banquet March 6 at the Beverly Hilton.
Reynolds, a former child actor, has won multiple Emmy Awards as a director. He made his mark in this industry by working on such landmark shows as “MASH” and “Lou Grant.”
“I’d like to think what we tried to accomplish with such shows as ‘MASH’ and ‘Lou Grant’ and ‘Room 222’ was to copy real life and not theater,” Reynolds said. “We always were looking into these different vocations with a lot of depth , so that we were presenting real drama.”
Reynolds made the jump from acting to directing at the urging of a former child star pal, Jackie Cooper. Cooper hired Reynolds to direct “Hennesey” on CBS in the late 1950s. Years later, Reynolds hired Cooper to direct several episodes of “MASH.”
From that start, Reynolds’ career as a director charged ahead as he became a constant presence in television situation comedies, directing dozens of episodes of “My Three Sons” and “Hogan’s Heroes,” among many other shows.
He often was brought in to launch new shows, such as “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and “Room 222,” the latter earning him his first Emmy in 1970.
He went on to win five more Emmys, three for “MASH” and two for “Lou Grant.” The DGA also gave him television awards in 1973, 1975 and 1978 for “MASH” and “Lou Grant.”
Rich, who also won multiple Emmys as director and producer, started his career as a basketball announcer but quickly decided that he preferred production. He started in radio and was soon working on live television.
“When I first joined the Screen Directors Guild (predecessor to the DGA) in 1953, it was a localized union in Hollywood whose members consisted mostly of the industry’s giants,” Rich said.
As a young member, Rich was asked to sit on the board of directors alongside such heavyweights as Frank Capra, John Ford and Billy Wilder.
Rich, along with other members, was one of the original proponents of the idea for the SDG to merge with the New York-based Radio and Television Directors Guild. The guilds, along with Local 161, merged in 1960.
“We always felt it would be better to have all of the discussions going on under one tent,” Rich said.
Rich directed “The Dick Van Dyke Show” for three years, picking up his first Emmy for that show in 1963.
He began directing both films and television, helming such Elvis Presley films as “Roustabout” and “Easy Come, Easy Go” and such TV programs as “That Girl,””Gomer Pyle,””Hogan’s Heroes” and “Twilight Zone.”
His second director Emmy came in 1972 for an episode of “All in the Family,” followed by a producer Emmy for that show a year later.
From 1971-75, he directed 85 consecutive episodes of “All in the Family.” The DGA named him director of the year in 1971.
As a producer, his credits include “Gilligan’s Island,””Nearly Departed” and “Honor Bound.” He also exec produced for such shows as “Benson,””Mr. Sunshine, “”Walter and Emily” and “MacGyver.” Both Reynolds and Rich have beenactive within the guild, serving on numerous committees and boards. Both are on the DGA negotiating committee, which is holding contract talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.
Reynolds is serving his second consecutive term as DGA first VP and his fourth year in a row as DGA awards committee chair.
Rich is a member of the national board, negotiating committee and creative rights committee, along with continuing service on the DGA-producers pension and health & welfare plans.