Born in Yekaterinoslav, Ukrainian SSR (now known as Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine), Sagal emigrated to the United States where he attended the Yale School of Drama. Sagal's many TV credits include directing episodes of The Twilight Zone, T.H.E. Cat, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Columbo, Peter Gunn, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. He also directed the 1972 television adaptation of Percy MacKaye's play The Scarecrow, for PBS. He was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards for his direction of the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and, posthumously, the above mentioned Masada.
Sagal directed the 1971 cult classic science fiction film, The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston in the lead role and The Dream Makers. There is a directing fellowship in his name at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.
Sagal was Jewish. Sagal was the father of Katey Sagal, (famous for her role as Peg Bundy in the series Married... with Children), Joe, and twins Jean and Liz Sagal, (who both served for a time as the "Doublemint Twins" in the long-running ad campaign by Doublemint gum), by his first wife, Sara Zwilling, who died in 1975. His second wife was Marge Champion, to whom he was married from January 1, 1977 until his death.
|Photo by A.J. Marik|
He suffered for five hours before succumbing to his death. He was in the third day of filming the NBC television movie "World War III," starring Rock Hudson and David Soul.
George Brady, a spokesman for the lodge, said the accident occurred just after Mr. Sagal and the film's crew landed in the lodge's parking lot after returning from a day of shooting background scenes for the movie.
He had just returned from filming aerial shots, his helicopter landing in the parking lot of the Timberline lodge on Mt. Hood (the exteriors location from The Shining (1980)). Preoccupied with his work, he inadvertently turned the wrong way upon getting out of the helicopter, walking directly into the rear rotor blade; he died of severe head and shoulder injuries after emergency surgery 60 miles away in Portland. Astonishingly, filming resumed the very next day with a new director David Greene.
Ironically, his work includes the pilot episode of the TV series "Combat!" (1962), which starred Vic Morrow. Two decades after collaborating, Sagal and Morrow would die almost exactly the same way (struck by a helicopter's rotor blade)...within a year of each other, both while shooting a movie on location. For Sagal, it was World War III (1982) (TV); for Morrow, it was Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).
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