Prolific TV and theater director Jeffrey Hayden, whose credits include Peyton Place and The Donna Reed Show, among many others, died December 24. Hayden passed away following a year-long battle with cancer at his Los Angeles home surrounded by his family, including his wife, Eva Marie Saint. He was 90.
Hayden began his decades-long 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.
In addition to Peyton Place and The Donna Reed Show, Hayden’s many TV directing credits include The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver, Lassie, Dennis the Menace, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, , 77 Sunset Strip, Name of the Game, Route 66, Mannix, 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 was honored with 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.
Hayden also was praised for his direction of stage works such 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 also performed together in both Love Letters and in Willa Cather’s On the Divide.
A member of the Actors Studio in New York, 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.
In addition to his wife, Hayden is survived by his children Laurette and Darrell, and grandchildren Eli, Tyler, Molly and Stella.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made in Hayden’s memory to UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation.