Rod Holcomb, Emmy Winner Who Directed Episodes of ‘ER’ and ‘Lost,’ Dies at 80

Rod Holcomb, the Emmy-winning ER director who also helmed episodes of Lost, China Beach, Wolf and The Six Million Dollar Man, has died. He was 80.

Holcomb died Jan. 24 in Los Angeles after a long illness, the Directors Guild of America shared Friday.

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Josh Holcomb said, “Dad was an inspiration to me. He always stayed humble and never lost his desire to mentor young people who were making their way into the industry.”

“Our gentle giant and kind friend passed away peacefully with his wife Jane, son Josh and daughter Natasha by his side,” Holcomb’s manager, Geoffrey Brandt, told The Hollywood Reporter. “He was 80 years young.”

“The DGA deeply mourns the passing of Rod Holcomb — a visionary director whose impact on television direction and the creative rights of television directors cannot be overstated,” DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter said in a lengthy statement. “Rod’s influence as a pilot director on shows like China Beach and ER among many others, resonated deeply with directors and audiences alike, leaving a cultural imprint. His pioneering use of Steadicam and other techniques brought a more cinematic style to television, helping establish a visual aesthetic that continues today.

She continued, “Yet his legacy stretches far beyond the lens. By dedicating himself to guild service — including serving on seven negotiating committees and serving as the co-chair of the Television Creative Rights Committee — Rod fought to enshrine important protections so television directors could bring their own dynamic visions to life unfettered. We will miss his warm, steadfast presence — and know his caring leadership and directorial mastery will continue inspiring directors for generations. Our deepest condolences to his wife, Jane and his family.”

Over the course of his decades-long career, Holcomb directed hundreds of television episodes and received four Emmy nominations — three for ER and one for China Beach. He also scored two DGA nods for those shows and one for The Pentagon Papers.

He also helmed episodes of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Ice, Agent X, Blood & Oil, The Mentalist and Chicago Fire, as well as The Good Wife, Numb3rs, The West Wing, Justified, NCIS: Los Angeles, Elementary, The Equalizer, Rizzoli & Isles, CSI: Miami and The Quest, among many others.

Born on May 28, 1943, in San Francisco, Holcomb began his career as a television director after moving to Los Angeles and getting a job in the mailroom of ABC Studios. While there, he was asked to write an advertisement for The Six Million Dollar Man. The network liked what he came up with and, in turn, hired him as an associate producer on the series, which led to him directing several episodes.

He was an active member of the DGA, serving on the national board as an alternate from 2003-13 and on the Western Directors Council as an alternate or member from 1995-2012. He also served on the DGA negotiating committee in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014.

Survivors also include his five grandchildren.

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