Marty Pasetta was born in Santa Clara, California and moved to San Francisco and sought work at the television station KGO-TV where he was hired on a temporary basis to work in scenery and lighting. He was eventually offered a permanent position as stage director, the modern equivalent of a stage manager, and joined the predecessor of the DGA, the Radio and Television Directors Guild. As the station grew, more directors were needed and Pasetta was promoted to director and producer. His first directing assignment for the station was filming performer Gypsy Rose Lee, but after several years he decided to move to Los Angeles. Upon moving to L.A., he was hired as associate producer on ABC’s Dateline: Hollywood and was eventually asked to fill in as director when the production started to fall apart. After directing his first show he was hired on permanently for the next two seasons. He was subsequently hired on the popular Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967, directing comedy skits and musical acts such as The Doors, Cream and Jefferson Airplane.
His next job directing a Rod McKuen special on NBC led to one of the mainstays of his career—directing the Academy Awards. Wanting to add musical performances to appeal to a larger audience, the show’s producers found Pasetta’s previous work in musical specials a perfect fit for what they had in mind. Starting with the 44th Academy Awards in 1972, Pasetta directed the next 16 shows up to 1988. In addition to the Academy Awards, Pasetta directed The Grammy Awards from 1971-78 as well as such television specials as Bing Crosby and His Friends (1972), Magnavox Presents Frank Sinatra (1973), Happy Birthday, Las Vegas (1977), as well as several specials for the American Film Institute. One of Pasetta’s most notable productions includes Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii (1973), which was reportedly watched by over 1 billion people worldwide.
For his directorial efforts Pasetta has been nominated for 8 DGA Awards, once for The H. Andrew Williams Magic Lantern Show in 1970, once for the AFI Salute to Henry Fonda in 1979 and six times for the Academy Awards broadcasts (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1985). Pasetta was also nominated for nine Primetime Emmys for his musical and variety specials. A Guild member since 1960, Pasetta served on the Western Directors Council from 1976-78.
Pasetta passed away in May 2015.