Vitarelli’s son Chip Vitarelli told The Washington Post that the cause was congestive heart failure.
In a statement, the Directors Guild of America said “Robert’s distinguished career was most notably spent in the CBS Washington News Bureau for over three decades where he contributed to such shows as Face the Nation, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, CBS This Morning, Nightwatch and 60 Minutes Point/Counterpoint.
“Robert directed news coverage of some of the most significant events in modern U.S. history – from the first launching of an American (Alan Shepard) into space in 1961, the 1964 Civil Rights Hearings, and the first live coverage of a US President’s (Nixon) trip to the People’s Republic of China in 1972, to five Presidential Inaugural ceremonies, six political conventions, and funeral services of Robert F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower. He will be deeply missed.”
Vitarelli also directed The Kalb Report, a public-affairs program filmed at the National Press Club in Washington and moderated by Marvin Kalb. He was honored in 1998 with the DGA Lifetime Achievement in News.
According to the Post, Vitarelli joined CBS in 1953. He retired to Florida in 2013, and is survived by his wife Carol, son Chip, a brother; and two grandchildren.