Joel Rosenzweig, who directed television series including “Cagney & Lacey,” “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill,” “Christy,” “Buck James” and “Falcon Crest,” died of post-operative heart failure at his home in Richardson, Texas, on October 29. He was 66.
At USC in 1970, Rosenzweig, guided by Oscar winner and acting mentor Nina Foch, was deemed “able to do character breakdown better than anyone on the planet.” His master’s thesis at USC was the world premiere staging of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy.”
A year later, when he was 22, Rosenzweig staged the rock opera again, this time with a professional cast at the Aquarius Theatre in Hollywood. Ted Neeley played the title role. “Creative differences” with the producers were to follow, but all subsequent productions of the iconic rock album (both on stage and screen) adhered closely to that original libretto by the onetime USC drama student.
A second generation native of Los Angeles, Rosenzweig devoted nearly 20 years to California regional theater before succumbing to the siren call of Hollywood and television production, where his direction resulted in a string of accolades for others: Emmy nominations for best supporting actor John Karlin (“Cagney & Lacey”) and best supporting actor Ed Asner (“The Trials of Rosie O’Neill”), a best supporting actress Emmy win for Tyne Daly (“Christy”) and for Randy Morgan, an Eddie award for best editing (“Cagney & Lacey”).
Recruited as a drama specialist for the Richardson Independent School District in Texas, Rosenzweig had been a full-time teacher, served as president of his Texas State Teachers Association local and served on several committees for the Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals.
For the last several years Rosenzweig taught government at Lake Highlands High School.
Joel Rosenzweig is survived by his wife of 22 years, Joan Murphy Rosenzweig; their son Marc, a drama major at USC; daughters Dr. Sarah Murphy and Gwen Murphy-Vega; grandson Mason Vega; Joel’s brother, producer Barney Rosenzweig, and Barney’s spouse, actress Sharon Gless.
Donations may be made to the Richardson Independent School District Scholarship Fund in Richardson, Texas.