Jay Sandrich
Jay Henry Sandrich

(1932-02-24)February 24, 1932
DiedSeptember 22, 2021(2021-09-22) (aged 89)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
OccupationTelevision director
Years active1956–2003
  • Nina Kramer
    (m. 1953; div. 1976)
  • Linda Green Silverstein
    (m. 1984)
ParentMark Sandrich
RelativesRuth Harriet Louise (aunt)

Jay Henry Sandrich (February 24, 1932 – September 22, 2021) was an American television director who primarily worked on sitcoms. In 2020, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[1]

Early life

Jay Sandrich was born February 24, 1932, in Los Angeles. He was the son of film director Mark Sandrich.[2] The younger Sandrich attended the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating with a B.A. in 1953.[3]


Sandrich began his television work in the mid-1950s as a second assistant director with Desilu Productions, and began his career as an assistant director on I Love Lucy and assistant to the producer on The Andy Griffith Show.[3] Sandrich directed and/or produced episodes of The Bill Dana Show; The Bill Cosby Show; Get Smart; The Odd Couple; Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers; Loves Me, Loves Me Not; Soap; two-thirds of the episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in early seasons and recurring including the series finale; and 100 episodes including the entire first two seasons and the series finale of The Cosby Show.[3] He also directed the series pilot episodes of The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, Benson, Empty Nest and The Golden Girls. His last work as a director on television was an episode of Two and a Half Men in 2003.

In 1965, Sandrich put in his only stint as a producer, serving as associate producer for the first season of the NBC-TV comedy Get Smart, which co-starred Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. He enjoyed the experience but vowed to stick to directing in future. He told Andy Meisler of Channels magazine, "I really didn't like producing. I liked being on the stage. I found that, as a producer, I'd stay up until four in the morning worrying about everything. As a director, I slept at night."

Sandrich described the responsibilities of a television director as finding good writers and actors, then creating "an atmosphere in which the actors can do their best work. The director is one step closer to the performers and therefore more able to shape the script to the actors' needs and to come up with small bits of stage business."[4]

James Burrows, a director mentored by Sandrich on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, recalls,

I watched Jay battle tooth and nail with [writer-producer] Jim Brooks over what they both wanted for the show. It was often a loud yet healthy and constructive exchange. It emboldened me because I learned about how a passionate exchange could get you to a great episode. Writers want you to do the script, but sometimes what works in the writers' room doesn’t work on the stage. Jay would say, "I'll do it your way, but I'm not sure it's the right way. Let me show you what we can do." That empowers the actors to feel like a larger part of the creative process.[5]

The Cosby Show executive producer Tom Werner told Meisler, "Although we're really all here to service Bill Cosby's vision, the show is stronger because Jay challenges Bill and pushes him when appropriate." Sandrich was proud of the program's pioneering portrayal of an upper-class Black family and its civilized view of parent-child relations.

Film and theatre work

The only feature film Sandrich directed was Seems Like Old Times (1980), written by Neil Simon.

Sandrich also directed for Theatre Aspen, in Aspen, Colorado, Rounding Third (2008), Chapter Two (2009), and Same Time, Next Year (2010).


Sandrich died from complications of dementia at his home in Los Angeles on September 22, 2021, at age 89.[6][7]

Further reading


  1. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 3, 2019). "TV Academy Hall Of Fame Adding Bob Iger, Geraldine Laybourne, Seth MacFarlane, Jay Sandrich & Cicely Tyson". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 22, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  2. ^ "Jay Sandrich". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. March 5, 2016. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Sandrich, Jay. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn. 1997. ISBN 978-1-8849-6426-8. Retrieved June 1, 2022. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Burrows, James; Friedfeld, Eddy (2022). Directed by James Burrows. Ballantine. pp. 56, 57. ISBN 9780593358245.
  5. ^ Burrows, James; Friedfeld, Eddy (2022). Directed by James Burrows. Ballantine. p. 57. ISBN 9780593358245.
  6. ^ Koseluk, Chris. "Jay Sandrich, Prolific Director on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and 'The Cosby Show,' Dies at 89". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  7. ^ Sandomir, Richard (September 26, 2021). "Jay Sandrich, Emmy-Winning Sitcom Director, Is Dead at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2021.