Robert Scheerer, whose lengthy show business career was highlighted by his mastery of directing live musicals for television, has died at 89.
Scheerer died March 3 of natural causes, according to an announcement from production company LenGlo Entertainment.
Born in Santa Barbara in 1928, Scheerer started out as a dancer. As a teenage member of the dance group The Jivin’ Jacks and Jills, he made 12 films for Universal Studios, including What’s Cookin’. He later acted on Broadway in the play Lend an Ear and appeared with Julie Andrews in the The Boy Friend, with Phil Silvers in Top Banana, and with comic actor Wally Cox in Dance Me A Song, directed by Bob Fosse.
Scheerer soon transitioned to directing, landing his first big job on Shari Lewis’ Saturday Morning Show. He went on to receive 10 Emmy nominations for Best Director and won in 1964 for his work on The Danny Kaye Show. He directed two AFI specials, one honoring Bette Davis and the other John Ford. For decades, he was the go-to director for live TV musical specials. He directed Barbra Streisand in A Happening In Central Park and Shirley Maclaine in If They Could See me Now. His credits also included Live At Lincoln Center specials with Beverly Sills, Audra McDonald and Danny Kaye.
Episodic TV also became a specialty, and Scheerer helmed episodes of many top-rated shows, including Fame, Matlock, Hawaii Five-O, Police Story, The Love Boat, Knots Landing, Dynasty, Ironside and Gilligan’s Island. He regularly got directing work on the many Star Trek iterations, including The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
Three feature films were also directed by Scheerer, including Adam at 6am with Michael Douglas in 1970, The World’s Greatest Athlete with Jan Michael Vincent in 1973 and How to Beat the High Co$t of Living with Jessica Lange, Susan Saint James and Jane Curtin in 1980.
Scheerer is survived by his and his wife, Denise Scheerer, two children from his first wife, Nina, Amanda Scheerer and Evan Scheerer; stepdaughter Angel Pennington; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.