Obituary: Jay Sandrich

Jay Sandrich

February 24, 1932 – September 22, 2021

Five-time Emmy award-winning director Jay Sandrich has passed away at the age of 89.

The highly acclaimed Sandrich was at the helm for significant chapters in television history, directing two-thirds of The Mary Tyler Moore Show which ran on CBS from 1970 to 1977, The Cosby Show, Golden Girls, WKRP in Cincinnati, and Soap among others. He also directed the Neil Simon feature, Seems Like Old Times with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn.

Sandrich began his career as a 2nd assistant director on I Love Lucy after serving in the U.S. Army and would go on to be a part of numerous other signature shows in the ’60s including The Andy Griffith Show, the Danny Thomas Show, and Get Smart.

Sandrich was born in Los Angeles in 1932 and attended both Beverly Hills High School and UCLA. He was the son of famed director Mark Sandrich (Shall We Dance, Holiday Inn, Top Hat) and was preceded by his father, mother Freda, and brother Mark Sandrich, Jr. He is survived by his wife Linda, and children from a previous marriage, Eric, Tony, and Wendy, along with four grandchildren, a niece and nephew, and great-nieces and nephews.

In 2020, Sandrich was named to the Television Academy Hall of Fame, and in addition to his 5 Emmy awards, received numerous Director’s Guild and People’s Choice Awards.

Long known as a mentor to new generations of television directors, Sandrich was also a proactive visionary. For the pilot of The Golden Girls, he advocated switching the roles of Betty White and Rue McClanahan, having known Betty White in the more provocative and vampish role of Sue Ellen in the Mary Tyler Moore show. He gave John Ritter and Henry Winkler their first jobs in television, and orchestrated countless other major casting decisions.

Jay was a Lifetime Trustee of the Aspen Institute and directed multiple outstanding productions at TheatreAspen.

Funeral arrangements will be private, and contributions can be made in Jay’s memory to Planned Parenthood, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and the Cradle to Career Aspen Community Foundation.