John Peyser

Active - 1957 - 1982  |   Born - Aug 10, 1916 in New York, New York, United States  |   Died - Aug 16, 2002   |   Genres - War, Adventure, Crime, Western, Mystery

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

As the director of such Golden Age of Television classics as Studio One, John Peyser was a key player in one of the most exciting and important periods in media history. A pioneer who became involved in television production at its earliest stages, Peyser would continue to work on such popular small-screen series as Hawaii Five-O, Charlie's Angels, and CHiPs well into his later years. A native of New York City who was born in 1916, Peyser got his break in television as a producer and director for NBC after graduating from Colgate University. Though his career behind the camera was briefly halted due to service in the Psychological Warfare branch of the U.S. Army during World War II, television was in his blood and the once popular director's skills would grow even stronger after returning stateside and making a new home at CBS. Working under his former commanding officer William Paley in his postwar years, Peyser directed numerous live broadcasts in the Golden Age including Prudential Theater, The Frank Sinatra Show, Suspense, and Starlight Theater in addition to the aforementioned weekly drama Studio One. Following a relocation to the West Coast in 1955, Peyser directed such efforts as The Virginian, Perry Mason, and most of his later work as a contract director for Warner Bros. and Universal. A subsequent relocation to Spain did little to slow Peyser's tireless work, and it was while living in Europe that the director would helm such American studio films as Honeymoon With a Stranger (1969) and Kashmiri Run (1970) before returning stateside to work on The Young Warriors and direct numerous episodes of television's Ripley's Believe It or Not with Jack Palance. A resident of Woodland Hills, CA, in his later years, John Peyser died in his sleep at his home in mid-August 2002. He was 86.

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  • Served in the Psychological Warfare Branch of the U.S. Army in Africa, Italy, France and Germany during World War II.
  • First theatrical feature film was the 1957 crime drama Undersea Girl.
  • Reportedly directed the majority of the episodes of Combat featuring heavy equipment such as jeeps, tanks and a steam locomotive, and was the only director to use high altitude shots.
  • First writing credits were on the series The Rat Patrol, on the 3-part episode "The Last Harbor Raid" which he also directed.
  • Directed dozens of episodes of popular TV series, such as Bonanza, Combat!, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Charlie's Angels, Hawaii Five-O, ChiPs, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not, among many others.