Obituary: Joseph Sargent

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Joseph Sargent, award-winning film director and Malibu resident of 40 years, died at his home on Dec. 22 at the age of 89. 

Joseph Sargent, award-winning film director and Malibu resident of 40 years, died at his home on Dec. 22 at the age of 89. 

Sargent was born Giusseppe Daneiele Sorgente on July 22, 1925 in Jersey City, N.J. He served as a teenage GI volunteer in Western Europe during World War II. After returning to the U.S., Sargent moved to New York and began studying at the Actors’ Studio. He began his screen career with smaller roles, gradually landing larger roles, in and off Broadway. He then moved to Hollywood, Calif. where he gained experience in TV, first as an actor and then as a director on shows like “Bonanza,” “Lassie” and “Star Trek.” 

Sargent won his first Emmy Award for directing the pilot episode of “Kojak.” In total, Sargent won four Emmy Awards and nine nominations as well as four Directors Guild of America Awards and nine nominations. Sargent’s work was known as a reflection of the humanity of the subject and passion brought to all 86 of his theatrical features, his TV movies and his direction of episodes of TV shows from the ’60s and ’70s. His career spanned more than 50 years; he worked until he was 84 years old. Sargent spent the last decade of his career teaching his skills to students, both as the senior filmmaker-in-residence for the directing program at the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles and as the first professor of a master’s program in film directing at Pepperdine University. 

Sargent is survived by his wife of 44 years, Carolyn Nelson Sargent; two daughters, Lia Sargent and Athena Sargent Sergneri; nieces Charlotte and Emma Nelson; and a number of godchildren.