Twice-blacklisted television director Charles S. Dubin, who worked prolifically over the course of more than four decades, helming more episodes of “MASH” — 44 — than any other director, died Sept. 5 in Brentwood, Calif., of natural causes. He was 92.
Dubin was already a TV veteran when he became associated with “MASH,” having directed classic live arts programming during TV’s golden age such as “Pulitzer Prize Playhouse” (1950-52); “Omnibus” (1955-58), for which he worked with the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Agnes de Mille and George Balanchine; and “The Seven Lively Arts.” In 1959, he filmed the Bolshoi Ballet for television during its first American tour.
Dubin produced and directed a 1965 TV adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Cinderella,” starring Lesley Ann Warren, earning an Emmy nomination.
In the wake of his success with this high-profile production, which also starred Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon, Dubin became one of the busiest directors in TV over the next 25 years.
Dubin helmed multiple episodes of series including “The Defenders,” “The Big Valley,” “The Virginian,” “Ironside,” “Room 222,” “Medical Center,” “Kung Fu,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Kojak,” “Lou Grant,” “Too Close for Comfort,” “Matlock” and “Father Dowling Mysteries.”
He also directed two episodes of the 1979 miniseries “Roots: The Next Generation.”
Dubin was Emmy nominated three times for “MASH,” including for the famed episode “Point of View,” which was shot entirely from the point of view of a wounded soldier. He also picked up Directors Guild Award nominations for two episodes of “MASH,” including “Point of View.”
“MASH” producer Gene Reynolds, who first worked with Dubin on “Room 222” and then later on “Lou Grant,” said, “He was a dear friend. Charlie was gifted, had a fine eye for comedy and understood the material. He was always an interesting filmmaker, staged well, handled the camera well. And he had a great gift for getting along with people.”
“MASH” star Mike Farrell said: “It’s a terrible loss. He was the favorite director of the group of us on ‘MASH’ — a man with a history, an extraordinary career, ballet, classical music behind him. He became a part of the family.”
Dubin was also DGA nominated for an episode of “Hawaii Five-O” and won a DGA Award for an episode of “Kojak.”
Dubin won a Daytime Emmy in 1990 for PBS’ “Square One TV” and was nominated again in 1992.
He directed two theatrical films, “Mister Rock and Roll” (1957) and “Moving Violation” (1976).
Born in New York City, Dubin initially wanted to become an opera singer. After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1941, he studied acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. In the Catskills, he did comedy, drama and music performances as well as some directing. He worked as a stage manager in legit theater in New York, including with Moss Hart.
Dubin began his career as a television director in 1950, just as the medium was becoming viable, when ABC hired him as an associate director.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1966.
Dubin was blacklisted twice, first in 1952, then in 1958, while directing the NBC quizshow “Twenty-One” (the show became the center of the quizshow scandal, but Dubin said he was unaware of the backstage practices that led to the show’s demise). At that time, he appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He later explained that he was not, at that time, a Communist Party member and had never known of any activity contrary to the interests of the United States but also believed in his right not to testify.
He was never cited for contempt, but NBC and the producers of “Twenty-One” dismissed him the next day.
Dubin is survived by his second wife, Mary Lou Chayes, and daughter Zan Dubin Scott, a publicist.