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Award-Winning Television Director John Erman Has Passed Away at Age 85

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He directed such Hollywood and Broadway luminaries as Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, Ann-Margret and more.

Award-Winning Television Director John Erman Has Passed Away at Age 85

Noted television director and producer John Erman, who directed episodes of many of the great television shows and TV movies and mini-series from the early sixties all the way into the 2000's, died in New York on June 25th after a brief illness.

Born in Chicago on August 3rd, 1935, THE SON of Lucile Straus and Milton Erman, a regional manager for The American Woolen Company, John moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was six.

Erman attended Beverly Hills High School and then UCLA where he studied acting. His first break came when at a party attended by his parents, one of the guests, Valentine Davies, who had written Miracle on 34th Street and was about to direct The Benny Goodman Story, talked about a funny kid he had seen in a play at UCLA, and it turned out that was John. His parents were very much impressed, and Erman ended up playing the young Benny Goodman's brother in a role specifically written for him by Davies. After graduation, he continued to pursue his interest in acting by attending classes with Sanford Meisner in New York.

He also appeared as a student in Blackboard Jungle, but soon transitioned into work as a casting director, which started with a stint with Jim Lister at Republic Studios in New York, where he was hired because they were impressed with his knowledge of New York actors, something he gleaned during numerous trips from California to see plays on Broadway.

Erman eventually used that experience to break into directing. A string of early directing credits on beloved series such as "Father of the Bride," "The Fugitive," "Please DON'T Eat the Daisies," "The Flying Nun," "Room 222," "That Girl," "Peyton Place," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "Star Trek," "Marcus Welby, MD," "The Bob Newhart Show," "M*A*S*H" and "Family," eventually lead to an illustrious career in television movies and mini-series, including "Green Eyes," "Roots," and "Roots: The Next Generation," "Eleanor, First Lady of the World," "A Street Car Named Desire" (1984), "The Atlanta Child Murders," "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles," "The Attic: the Hiding of Anne Frank," "Carolina Skeletons," "Alex Haley's Queen," "Breathing Lessons," "Scarlett," "The Boys Next Door," "The Sunshine Boys" (1996), "Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke," "Victoria & Albert," "The Blackwater Lightship," and many others. Along the way he directed such Hollywood and Broadway luminaries as Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, Ann-Margret (several times), Peter Falk, Joanne Woodward, Gena Rowlands, Bernadette Peters, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Lee Remick, Claudette Colbert, Sylvia Sidney, Hugh Grant, Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Tony Curtis, Richard Chamberlain, and Lauren Bacall.

A ten-time Emmy nominee, Erman won the award for "Who Will Love My Children?" and won Directors Guild of America Awards for "Roots Part II" and "An Early Frost," the first prominent network television movie to deal with AIDS.

John Erman served on the DGA's Western Directors Council from 1980-81 and the Eastern Directors Council from 2001-02.

After retirement, Erman taught theater and film appreciation at Fordham University and New York University.

At the time of his death he was also serving on the TONY AWARDS Nominating Committee.

John Erman is survived by his husband and partner of 42 years, Richard Blair.


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