Vanishing Point director Richard C. Sarafian died early this morning in Santa Monica of complications from pneumonia. He was 83. The New York City-born Sarafian had suffered a fall recently where he broke several ribs and his back. He contracted the infection while recovering from that incident, according to his son Daran Sarafian, also a helmer. Richard Sarafian’s direction of the iconic 1971 car pic was an inspiration to Quentin Tarantino, who gave the director a Special Thanks in the credits of 2007’s car-themed Death Proof. The director was also behind the camera of several early iconic TV series like Batman, I Spy, 77 Sunset Strip and Westerns including Gunsmoke. His last directing job was a 2011 episode of Zorro: The Legend Continues. Sarafian was a presence in front of the camera too: Among his acting gigs, his good friend Warren Beatty cast him in both Bullworth and Bugsy, and he also was in Don Juan DeMarco opposite pal Marlon Brando. Sarafian was also a longtime friend of fellow director Robert Altman — they became more like rivals after Sarafain married Altman’s sister, Joan. The couple had four sons and a daughter.

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