Reza Badiyi, a prolific television and movie director whose credits include "Mission: Impossible," "Hawaii Five-O," "Baretta," and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" among other classics, has died. He was 81.
Badiyi died peacefully Saturday at UCLA Medical Center due to medical complications, according to publicist Bita Milanian.
He was surrounded by his immediate family and loved ones, she said.
Badiyi was born on April 17, 1930, in Arak, Iran. He graduated from the Academy of Drama in his homeland and received the prestigious golden medal of art from the Shah of Iran.
Badiyi was then invited by the United States government in 1955 to pursue a film career and he went on to graduate from Syracuse University in audiovisual studies. He began his career as a cinematographer, working with such directors as Robert Altman and Sam Peckinpah. He later called Altman his friend and mentor.
While he had previously directed documentary films in Iran, Badiyi made is own American directorial debut in 1963 with a short subject film called "Censorship: A Question of Judgement?" according to the website, Internet Movie Database.
By 1968, he began directing the funny and iconic television show "Get Smart," before moving on to other notable programs, such as "The Doris Day Show," "Mannix" and "The Six Million Dollar Man." Later shows include "Cagney & Lacey," "Falcon Crest," "Baywatch" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
It was Badiyi who came up with the idea of Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat into the air at the end of the opening credits of her show, according to IMDb.com.
He also was the cinematographer who shot the classic wave curl for the opening credits of "Hawaii Five-O" according to the website.
In the last six decades, he directed more than 430 television episodes and several films, publicist Milanian said.
"He was a proud Iranian-American and was very involved in the community," Milanian said. "He was a true Iranian at heart and could recite Iranian poetry like no other. The community is mourning tremendously for his loss."
In a 2009 interview with the online entertainment magazine Monsters and Critics, Badiyi, called the Godfather of American TV, said he was fortunate to have worked with so many talented writers, actors, and other professionals. But there was a time when the vilification of Iran troubled him, especially during the Jimmy Carter presidency and the Iran hostage crisis that began in 1979. He said he was even removed from a project because of his nationality.
"I suffered greatly during that time, even though I was in the U.S. and the number of years I had spent in Iran was less than I had spent in the U.S.," he told the magazine. "That being said, I never wanted to change my name or deny my nationality."
In 2009, Badiyi was presented with the Noor Iranian Film Festival Achievement Award for his work and contributions to the community. He also was the recipient of several other awards, including The Directors Guild Of America Award for directing the most hours of television, Milanian said.
Funeral services are to be announced by his family, Milanian said.