Casting director Phyllis Huffman died March 2 in New York after a brief illness. She was 61. 

Huffman worked as a casting director for over 26 years, casting 21 pictures with director Clint Eastwood. 

 Huffman and Eastwood enjoyed a close working relationship and friendship. The director said Huffman was “a visionary casting director with a true sense of what makes an actor right for a role. I completely trusted Phyllis with the casting duties on my movies.”

Huffman started her career in the casting office at MTM. She worked briefly at Paramount in the casting department, where she became a protege of casting director Marion Dougherty. She later made her career at Warner Bros., where she held a variety of positions, including VP, TV casting and director, feature film casting.  She was ultimately based out of the Warner Bros. casting offices in New York.

 The first film that Huffman cast for Eastwood was “Honkytonk Man,” and she continued casting the films he made, both as a director and a star, up to his current projects, “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Red Sun, Black Sand.” Among the Eastwood film she cast were best picture Oscar-winners “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby.” 

 Huffman earned a Casting Society of America award for her work on the Oscar-nominated  “Mystic River,” and for casting the pilot of the hit TV series “Murphy Brown” Huffman also received Emmy nominations for her work on “Boys Next Door” and “The Late Shift,” and cast the Emmy winning telefilm “Miss Rose White.”

 Her work also included casting live theater in New York, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.

 She is survived by her husband, Jules del Vecchio; two sons; a stepson; her mother; a brother and a sister.

Donations may be made to the David Huffman Memorial Scholarship, Webster University, 470 East Lockwood Ave., St. Louis, MO  63119.