Director Elliot Silverstein Who Worked on ‘The Twilight Zone’ Dies at 96

CAT BALLOU, from left, director Elliot Silverstein, Nat 'King' Cole, on-set, 1965
Everett Collection

Elliot Silverstein, director of several television productions including The Twilight Zone and Route 66, along with several films including Cat Ballou and A Man Called Horse, passed away at the age of 96. The director will always be remembered for helping form the milestone Bill of Creative Rights for directors.

“Every director today owes a debt of gratitude to Elliot Silverstein,” DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter shared. “No one ever worked harder or was more passionate about protecting artists from having their work and vision altered than Elliot.” Perhaps his most famous piece of work was a comedy-western called Cat Ballou. After Kirk Douglas dropped out of the starring role, Silverstein suggested Lee Marvin for the part. He believed in Marvin so much that he threatened to quit as the director when a producer wanted to replace Marvin. It was a good choice as Marvin won the Oscar for Best Actor for the film.

THE CAR, director Elliot Silverstein, 1977

Everett Collection

Prior to directing Cat Ballou, he mostly worked in television, directing four episodes of The Twilight Zone, as well as several episodes of Dr. Kildare, The Defenders, Suspicion, and more. It was while working on The Twilight Zone that he realized he wanted to help other directors after an editor refused to cut the ending of an episode the way he asked. The famous Director’s Cut appears in the Bill and the document reads, “The arrangement of the recorded images and sounds in a relationship the Director considers proper shall be known as the ‘Director’s Cut.’ It is the Director’s creative right and obligation to prepare this cut, and he must be given the time he deems necessary to fulfill this function.”

Honoree Elliot Silverstein during 54th Annual Directors Guild Of America Honors at Waldorf-Astoria in New York, New York, United States

Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images

After Silverstein retired, he taught film at USC and worked on screenplays. He is survived by his brother, Jason. Silverstein was married three times during his life, including once to Evelyn Ward, the mother of the late David Cassidy.

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