Leslie H. Martinson, who directed dozens of TV shows as well as feature films, including Batman: The Movie, has died. He was 101. His family announced that Martinson died September 3 of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.
Martinson began his career as a newspaper journalist before moving on to MGM as a script clerk in 1936. After serving in World War II, he began directing TV Western series in the early 1950s. He helmed the first of Mickey Rooney’s three failed sitcoms, The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan, in 1954-55, and his first feature was a Rooney matinee vehicle, 1954’s The Atomic Kid.
The Boston native went on to direct scores of TV series including Maverick, Temple Houston, Batman, Mission: Impossible, 77 Sunset Strip, Mannix, The Brady Bunch, Wonder Woman, Diff’rent Strokes, and the made-for-TV movie, Rescue from Gilligan’s Island. During the 1980s, Martinson directed episodes of Harper Valley PTA, CHiPs, and Airwolf. He most recently directed the syndicated series Small Wonder, which ran from 1985-89. Along with Batman: The Movie (1966), which he directed between the first two seasons of the ABC series, he also directed feature PT 109, among others.
“If you want to be a director, you can start before you’re anywhere near a set,” Martinson said in a 2003 interview with the Archive of American Television. “Every time you watch the television show, you’re learning your craft. You don’t watch a show for entertainment, you watch to study.”
Here is a clip of an interview Martinson did as part of Emmy TV Legends.