Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Theatre, TV and Film Director & Producer Jeffrey Hayden Dies at 90


BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that theatre, television and film director, producer and writer Jeffrey Hayden died peacefully after a year of cancer treatment on Saturday, December 24, 2016, at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by his loving family. He was 90 years old.

Born in New York on October 15, 1926, Hayden began his career at NBC New York after graduating from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He joined ABC Television as an associate director two years later and directed the first color specials for NBC Television, Lady in the Dark, starring Ann Sothern, and The Chocolate Soldier, starring Eddie Albert and Rise Stevens. He then directed his wife, actor Eva Marie Saint, and Richard Kiley in the prestigious Omnibus series on CBS. Hayden also directed the variety series The Bert Parks Show and the quiz show The Big Payoff.

In 1954, Hayden was chosen by producer Fred Coe to join the staff of The Philco Television Playhouse, where he directed live television dramas with such stars as James Dean, Walter Matthau, and Paul Newman. His work attracted the attention of several film studios, and Hayden moved with his family to Los Angeles to direct a film for Dore Schary at MGM, The Vintage, starring Michèle Morgan, Pier Angeli, John Kerr, and Mel Ferrer.

Hayden's prolific credits as a director of many popular and diverse television shows include The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver, Lassie, Dennis the Menace, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, The Donna Reed Show, 77 Sunset Strip, Name of the Game, Route 66, Mannix, Peyton Place, Quincy, The Bold Ones, Ironside, Alias Smith & Jones, Cagney and Lacey, In the Heat of the Night, and Magnum, P.I., among others. Hayden was executive producer/director of the daytime series Santa Barbara, and directed several highly praised afterschool specials for ABC.

Hayden won the Governor's Media Award for The Loretta Young Show, the NAACP Award for Palmerstown, USA, and the New York Emmy Award and Cine Golden Eagle Award for the PBS documentary Children in America's Schools with Bill Moyers. He also wrote, produced, and directed the Cine Golden Eagle Award-winning documentary Primary Colors: The Story of Corita for PBS.

Always drawn to the theatre, Hayden won acclaim for his direction of such stage works as The Front Page, and productions starring Eva Marie Saint of Summer and Smoke, Desire Under the Elms, Candida, The Fatal Weakness, Duet for One, Death of a Salesman and The Country Girl, for which he won the Drama-Logue Award. He also produced and directed Awake and Sing, The Oldest Living Graduate, Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Winesburg, Ohio and Sunrise in My Pocket. At the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, Hayden directed The Sunshine Boys, Fences, Desire Under the Elms and, his most recent production in 2015, Sunset Baby.

Hayden and Saint performed together in both Love Letters and in Willa Cather's On THE DIVIDE in theatres across the country.

A member of The Actors Studio in New York, Hayden's work and philosophy were significantly influenced by director Lee Strasberg. Hayden became an active member of Actors Studio West in Los Angeles where he frequently facilitated the Playwrights/Directors Unit. A guild supporter, Hayden was an original member of the Directors Guild of America's first Creative Rights Committee, collaborating on the creation of the "Bill of Creative Rights." Throughout his career, Hayden remained an outspoken advocate for directors' rights. Hayden also was passionately involved with the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Hayden was awarded honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and the University of South Carolina. He was a Distinguished Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of North Carolina and a guest lecturer at the USC Film School, UCLA Drama Department, and Vanderbilt University.

Hayden was a devoted husband of 65 years and a doting father and grandfather. In addition to his wife, Hayden is survived by his children Laurette and Darrell, and grandchildren Eli, Tyler, Molly and Stella. Hayden also loved classical music, art, gardening, and walking.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial gift to advance cancer research at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Donations may be directed to the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, Attn: Melissa Brody; 8-950 Factor Bldg, Box 951780, Los Angeles, CA; 90095-1780; (310) 206-0675;; Please indicate that your gift is in memory of Jeffrey Hayden.

Pictured: Jeffrey Hayden and Eva Marie Saint perform LOVE LETTERS in a benefit to end epilepsy. Photo by Todd Williamson.

Related Articles

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You