Statement on the Passing of Director Robert Butler

Robert Butler

November 11, 2023

Los Angeles – Directors Guild of America President Lesli Linka Glatter made the following statement upon learning of the passing of Robert Butler:

“Few Directors have changed the face of television as much as Bob did—his impact on the medium is truly immeasurable and this loss to our Guild is deeply felt. At ease in any genre, Bob’s pilots established the look and feel of several seminal series including Hogan's Heroes, Batman and Star Trek. His groundbreaking work on Hill Street Blues brought to life the grit and reality of an urban precinct by coupling his unique visual style with evocative performances he coaxed from an incomparable cast, forever changing the trajectory and style of episodic procedurals. It was for his unparalleled influence in television that the Guild selected Bob for our inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction in 2015.

“Despite a demanding career, Bob passionately served at the highest levels of Guild leadership for more than 30 years, advocating for the creative rights of members on the Western Directors Council and as a National Board member, including two terms as 5th Vice President. As a trustee for the Directors Guild Foundation for more than 35 years, Bob ensured that DGA members had access to emergency financial support at critical moments in their careers.  For all his extraordinary service to the Guild and its membership, in 2001 Bob was honored with the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award.  Bob’s legacy will live on in the memories of the many Directors he influenced and mentored, and the countless viewers who laughed and cheered along with his exceptional work. Our deepest condolences to his family and the many Directors and directorial team members who knew and loved him.”

DGA Service and Awards:

Robert Butler joined the DGA in 1959. In 2001, the DGA honored Butler with the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award in recognition of his decades of service to the Guild and its membership.

Butler won DGA Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Dramatic Series twice: In 1973 for his “Dust Bowl Cousins” episode of The Waltons, and in 1982 for “Hill Street Station,” the pilot for the series Hill Street Blues. He has also been recognized by the DGA with nominations for his work on The Blue Knight in 1974 and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in 1994. In 2015, Butler received the DGA’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction.

Butler served 11 consecutive terms on the DGA National Board starting in 1985, including two terms as Fifth Vice President. He also served on the Western Directors Council as a member or alternate for 16 terms between 1974-2005, as a trustee of the Directors Guild Foundation from 1988 to present and on nine Guild Negotiating Committees between 1977 to 2014.

Click here to view Butler's DGA Visual History interview


DGA Communications Department (310) 289-5333