Richard C. Sarafian

Richard Caspar Sarafian (April 28, 1930 – September 18, 2013) was an American television and film director and actor.[2] He compiled a versatile career that spanned over five decades as a director, actor, and writer. Sarafian is best known as the director of the 1971 film Vanishing Point.[3][4]

Richard C. Sarafian
Richard Caspar Sarafian[1]

(1930-04-28)April 28, 1930
DiedSeptember 18, 2013(2013-09-18) (aged 83)
Alma materNew York University
OccupationDirector, writer, actor
Years active1952–2007
Spouse(s)Helen Joan Altman
Children5, including Deran and Tedi


Sarafian was born in New York City on April 28, 1930, to Armenian immigrants.[1] He studied pre-law and pre-med at New York University and was a poor student, but changed over to studying film, at which he excelled. He left college to join the United States Army, in which he served as a reporter for an Army news service.[5] While stationed in Kansas City, Missouri, during the Korean War (1950-1953) he met the future Hollywood director Robert Altman, and the two became friends.[6][4]

Sarafian worked with Altman on industrial films and married Altman's sister, Helen Joan Altman. He also acted in a local play Altman directed.[6] His television career began in the early 1960s in Kansas City as Altman's assistant.[5][6] Sarafian soon began to direct television shows himself, and in 1963 scored one of his greatest successes as director of the "Living Doll" episode of The Twilight Zone. His first feature film was Andy in 1965. His greatest success as a feature film director came with Vanishing Point, which followed the action-packed adventures of a man driving a white Dodge Challenger from Denver, Colorado, to San Francisco, California, in 15 hours; critics disliked the movie but it became a cult hit.[6]

Besides The Twilight Zone, Sarafian's directing credits on television included episodes of the television series Gunsmoke and Batman. In addition to Andy and Vanishing Point, he directed a number of feature films, including Run Wild, Run Free in 1969, Man in the Wilderness in 1971, and The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing in 1973. In his film acting career, he played a gangster in Bugsy in 1991 and a hitman in Bulworth in 1998, and in 2001 he voiced the animated God Beaver character in Dr. Dolittle 2.[6] On television, he played a coffee shop owner as a regular member of the cast of the 1985-1986 CBS situation comedy Foley Square, starring Margaret Colin.[7][8]

Personal life

Sarafian and Helen Altman Sarafian married, divorced, and remarried; she died in 2011. They had five children, including actor Richard Sarafian Jr., actor/director Deran Sarafian, special effects expert Damon B. Sarafian, screenwriter Tedi Sarafian, and Catherine Sarafian.[6][9]


Sarafian died at the age of 83 in Santa Monica, California, on September 18, 2013, of pneumonia, which he contracted while recovering from a broken back.[6][10]




Year Title Role Notes
1956 The Magic Bond Short film
1976 The Next Man Gregory Zolnikov Uncredited / Also director
1984 Songwriter Rodeo Rocky
1987 Street Justice Taxi Driver Also director
1989 To Die For Bartender
1991 Bugsy Jack Dragna
1992 Ruby Proby
1994 Gunmen Chief Chavez
1994 Roadflower Trucker
1995 Don Juan DeMarco Detective Sy Tobias
1995 The Crossing Guard Sunny Ventura
1996 Bound Gino Marzzone
1998 Bulworth Vinnie
1999 Blink of an Eye Erlik
1999 Blue Streak Uncle Lou
2000 Picking Up the Pieces Wino
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 God Beaver (voice)
2002 Hitters
2003 Masked and Anonymous President
2007 Reeling Teeth (voice) Short film


Year Title Role Notes
1985–1986 Foley Square Spiro Papadopolis 14 episodes
1986 Long Time Gone Omar Television film
1986 Liberty Philbert Evans Television film / Also director
1989 Wiseguy Episode: "Le Lacrime D'Amore: Part 2"
1990 MacGyver Caspar Kasabian Episode: "Bitter Harvest"
1993 Sex, Love and Cold Hard Cash Abe Television film / Uncredited
1996 Miami Hustle Henry Kronfeld Television film
1996 Gotti Paul Castellano Television film
1997 Michael Hayes Restaurant Owner Episode: "Retribution"



Year Title Notes
1962 Terror at Black Falls Also producer and writer
1965 Andy Also producer and writer
1969 Run Wild, Run Free
1970 Fragment of Fear
1971 Vanishing Point
1971 Man in the Wilderness
1973 Lolly-Madonna XXX
1973 The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing
1976 The Next Man Also writer
1979 Sunburn
1981 Gangster Wars
1984 The Bear
1986 Eye of the Tiger
1987 Street Justice
1990 Solar Crisis Credited as Alan Smithee


Year Title Notes
1961 Maverick Episode: "The Forbidden City"
1961 Bronco Episode: "Guns of the Lawless"
1961 Surfside 6 Episode: "Count Seven!"
1961 The Roaring 20's Episode: "Blondes Prefer Gentlemen"
1961–1962 Lawman 22 episodes
1961–1962 Cheyenne 2 episodes
1962 Hawaiian Eye 2 episodes
1962–1963 The Dakotas 3 episodes
1962–1963 The Gallant Men 9 episodes
1962–1963 77 Sunset Strip 3 episodes
1963 Redigo Episode: "Lady War-Bonnet"
1963 The Great Adventure Episode: "Six Wagons to the Sea"
1963 The Twilight Zone Episode: "Living Doll"
1963 Bonanza Episode: "The Waiting Game"
1963–1965 Ben Casey 3 episodes
1964 Dr. Kildare Episode: "An Exchange of Gifts"
1965 Slattery's People 4 episodes
1965 The Wild Wild West 2 episodes
1965 Convoy Episode: "Lady on the Rock"
1965 The Long, Hot Summer Episode: "Home Is a Nameless Place"
1965 The Big Valley Episode: "Winner Lose All"
1965 The Wackiest Ship in the Army Episode: "The Stowaway"
1965–1968 Gunsmoke 4 episodes
1966 The Trials of O'Brien Episode: "Alarums and Excursions"
1966 Batman 2 episodes
1966 Jericho 5 episodes
1966 The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Episode: "The Romany Lie Affair"
1966–1968 I Spy 8 episodes
1967 Iron Horse Episode: "Consignment, Betsy the Boiler"
1967 The Guns of Will Sonnett 3 episodes
1967 Cimarron Strip Episode: "The Battle of Bloody Stones"
1967–1968 The Danny Thomas Hour 2 episodes
1968 Premiere
1968 Shadow on the Land Television film
1975 One of Our Own Television film
1975 Doctors' Hospital Episode: "One of Our Own"
1977 The African Queen Television film
1977 A Killing Affair Television film
1979 Disaster on the Coastliner Television film
1980 The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story Television film
1981 The Gangster Chronicles Television miniseries / 13 episodes
1981 Splendor in the Grass Television film
1981 Shannon 2 episodes
1982 The Mississippi Episode: "The Mississippi"
1985 Wildside 3 episodes
1986 Liberty Television film
1990 Zorro Episode: "Zorro: The Legend Continues" (Unaired TV pilot)



  1. Chawkins, Steve (September 18, 2013). "Richard C. Sarafian dies at 83; directed cult film 'Vanishing Point'". Los Angeles Times.
  2. Patten, Dominic (January 1, 1970). "Richard Sarafian Dies - Director Of Iconic Film 'Vanishing Point'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  3. Greenspun, Roger (March 25, 1971). "Vanishing Point (1971) A Lot of Speed and Loads of Hair". The New York Times.
  4. Gilbey, Ryan (September 20, 2013). "Richard C Sarafian obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  5. Dyess-Nugent, Phil (September 18, 2013). "R.I.P. Richard C. Sarafian, director of Vanishing Point". The A.V. Club.
  6. Chawkins, Steve (September 23, 2013). "Richard C. Sarafian, Hollywood Director, Dies at 83". The Washington Post.
  7. McNeil, Alex, Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming From 1948 to the Present, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, p. 293.
  8. Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime-Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present, Sixth Edition, New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, ISBN 0-345-39736-3, p. 364.
  9. "Richard C Sarafian". The New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  10. "Richard C. Sarafian, Director of 'Vanishing Point,' Dies at 83". The New York Times - Art. September 22, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
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