William “Kip” Gowans, an assistant director with dozens of credits and later a producer of telepics, died of natural causes March 11 outside the village of Mouans-Sartoux in the south of France. He was 80.
The English-born Gowans earned his first credit on Ken Annakin’s 1952 adventure film “The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men,” followed by 1954’s “Doctor in the House,” which was nominated for several BAFTAs including best film from any source. In 1958 he was a.d. on director Anthony Asquith’s “The Doctor’s Dilemma,” starring Dirk Bogarde and Leslie Caron.
He was very busy in 1960 as assistant director on two films starring Peter Sellers and a Hammer horror film, “Stop Me Before I Kill,” among others.
His first U.S. credit came in 1962 with an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”
In 1963 he was a.d. on Mark Robson’s international thriller “Nine Hours to Rama” and worked with Asquith again on the high-profile drama “The V.I.P.s,” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Gowans had hit his stride. He worked with Asquith again the next year on another all-star project, “The Yellow Rolls Royce,” and did John Schlesinger’s Oscar winner “Darling”; Schlesinger’s “Far From the Madding Crowd”; “The Lion in Winter”; and Michael Ritchie’s “Downhill Racer,” with Robert Redford, all before the 1960s were over.
His 1970s credits included Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Sleuth,” with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier; “Rollerball”; and Nicolas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”
Gowans was married to the English actress Valerie Gearon from 1963-69. In 1970 he married Lee Remick, and in the 1980s he produced a series of telepics starring the American actress, including “The Women’s Room” and “Rearview Mirror.”
Remick died in 1991. Gowans is survived by two daughters and four grandchildren.