Man Who Directed More TV Episodes Than Any Other Dies: Among Other Accomplishments He Created One of the Most Memorable Images in TV History (Hint–It Involves a Little Known Mary Tyler Moore–Jennifer Jason Leigh Connection…)

Aug 22, 2011  •  Post A Comment

The man who directed more U.S. TV episodes than any other person–over 430 of them–has died.

His name was Reza Badiyi, he was 81, and he died on Saturday, Aug. 20th at the UCLA Medical Center. No cause of death was on the release TVWeek received, though the release said he died "peacefully."

According to an article published in Mediaweek on March 23, 1998, by our friend Betsy Sharkey (now with the L.A. Times), "Badiyi, who studied at the Royal Academy of Drama in Iran before moving here and first working in Hollywood as a cameraman for the likes of Robert Altman and Sam Peckinpah, has directed series as diverse as ‘Buffy, The Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Cagney & Lacey,’ ‘Knot’s Landing,’ ‘Baretta’ and ‘Falcon Crest.’ Badiyi is also credited with creating the visual style for ‘Mission: Impossible’–the quick cuts and fast pacing."

He started directing in 1963.

The occasion of Sharkey’s piece 13 years ago was the completion of the 400th TV episode that Badiyi directed, an episode of USA’s sci-fi series "Sliders." His record number of TV shows that he directed has been commemorated by the Directors Guild of America, which also presented Badiyi with its Humanitas Award.

That Mediaweek article also notes that Badiyi’s legacy "includes such memorable images as Mary Tyler Moore flinging her hat skyward for the opening sequence of the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’–a hat that Badiyi had borrowed that day from his stepdaughter, Jennifer Jason Leigh."


  1. I would say there are soap opera directors who directed more episodes than Badiyi. Does this count only prime time episodes?

  2. Good point, Bryan. Same would likely be true of daily news programs or other strips. We’re assuming, as you also surmise, that Badiyi’s achivement refers to primetime scripted programs.

    Chuck Ross

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