A former Chicago newspaper reporter, Tom Gries came to Hollywood in the immediate postwar years as a talent agent. He entered films as a producer and scripter of both fictional and factual features, then spent several years writing TV scripts. Turning director in the early 1960s, Gries won an Emmy for his handling of "Who Do You Kill?," an episode of the dramatic TV series East Side West Side. Gries' feature-film directorial debut came about when he refused to sell his script for the austere western Will Penny (1968) to Paramount unless he was allowed to call the shots on the set. Developing a harmonious relationship with Will Penny star Charlton Heston, Gries went on to direct Heston's Number One (1969) and The Hawaiians (1970). An inveterate workaholic, 54-year-old Tom Gries died of a heart attack while editing his Muhammad Ali biopic The Greatest (1977).