Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Arthur Penn

The distinguished film, television and stage director Arthur Penn, best known for films such as Bonnie and Clyde and Little Big Man, died on Tuesday, at age 88.

Before becoming a film director, Mr. Penn was a prominent director in live television (including directing the 1957 Playhouse 90 production of The Miracle Worker, which he also later directed on Broadway, and then as a feature film).  He was very kind, and gracious, when he spoke with me in 1981 about his television work. 

Here is a brief exchange with Mr. Penn, from my book:
AF: I spoke with [director] Buzz Kulik, and he said that he and some friends used to say that if you worked in live TV, you could work in any medium, that nothing could throw you.

Penn: I would agree. I’ve never run into anything as tough as that...It sort of raised [your] threshold of fearlessness. If you could do those damn things, you could do anything.