Emmy-Nominated Writer-Director S. Lee Pogostin Dies at 86

Television and film writer-director S. Lee Pogostin died following a long illness on March 7, one day before his 87th birthday.

Pogostin won a Writers Guild Award and was nominated for an Emmy for his original teleplay “The Game,” for the anthology series “Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre.” Though Pogostin lost, director Sydney Pollack and actor Cliff Robertson won Emmys in 1966 for “The Game,” and actress Simone Signoret also won that year for another Pogostin-scripted Chrysler segment, “A Small Rebellion.”

Pogostin directed subsequent episodes of the “Chrysler” series and in 1969 helmed his only feature, the cult item “Hard Contract,” starring James Coburn as a hired killer.

Pogostin’s other feature credits as a writer were “Pressure Point” (based on his teleplay “Destiny’s Tot”), starring Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin; “Synanon”; “Nightmare Honeymoon”; “Golden Needles”; and “High Road to China.” He also wrote telepics, including the acclaimed “The UFO Incident,” under the pseudonym “Jake Justiz.”

Born in Jersey City, Pogostin grew up in Washington, D.C., and served in WWII after lying about his age to join the Army at 15. After moving to New York in 1950, Pogostin broke into the industry as a writer for radio programs including “Grand Central Station” and “Suspense.”

Moving into live television, Pogostin wrote for “Lux Video Theatre,” “Campbell Soundstage” and “Studio One”; crafting teleplays such as “Something for an Empty Briefcase” (an early starring role for James Dean) and “Early Morning for a Bartender’s Waltz” (an early vehicle for Robert Duvall). His other television credits include adaptations of Maugham’s “The Moon and Sixpence,” starring Laurence Olivier, and an adaptation of Arthur Miller’s novel “Focus,” for which Miller personally selected Pogostin to write the teleplay.

Pogostin spent much of the 1960s living abroad, in Spain and France, but commuted to Hollywood to write for TV series including “The Dick Powell Show,” “Cain’s Hundred” and “Slattery’s People.” After moving to Los Angeles, Pogostin became a friend and collaborator of John Cassavetes, who starred in Pogostin’s last “Chrysler Theatre” segment, “Free of Charge,” and Sam Peckinpah, with whom he worked (along with the actor Robert Culp) on an unproduced screenplay, “Summer Soldiers.”

Pogostin is survived by his wife, the dancer Betty Buday; two daughters and two sons; and six grandchildren.

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