Marvin J. Chomsky, Emmy-Winning Star Trek Director, Dies at 92

Marvin J. Chomsky, Emmy-Winning Star Trek Director, Dies at 92

Marvin J. Chomsky, the Emmy-winning director and producer who helmed episodes of beloved TV shows like “Roots” and “Star Trek,” died Monday, his son Peter Chomsky confirmed to Variety. He was 92.

A prolific director of the small-screen with a career spanning four decades, Chomsky won four Emmys over the course of his career, all for his work on various miniseries or television films: “Holocaust” in 1978, “Attica” in 1980,” “Inside the Third Reich” in 1982 and “Peter the Great” in 1986. He was additionally nominated for four other Emmys, and won two Director’s Guild of America awards out of four nominations.

Born in 1929 in New York City, Chomsky got his start in television as an art director and set director, before scoring his first directing credits in 1964, helming three episodes of medical drama “The Doctors and the Nurses.” Over the course of the 60s and early 70s, he directed episodes of numerous well-known and popular television series, such as “The Wild Wild West,” “Star Trek,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Magical World of Disney,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Police Story” and “Hawaii Five-O.” He also directed several TV movies, starting with “Assault on the Wayne” in 1971.

Chomsky had his breakthrough as a director in 1977, when he helmed two episodes of the groundbreaking ABC miniseries “Roots.” Based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel of the same name, “Roots” told the story of a family of enslaved Black people in the American South over the course of several generations. The miniseries featured an all-star cast of actors, including LeVar Burton, John Amos, Louis Gossett Jr. and Leslie Uggams, and became a ratings juggernaut, with the finale holding the record for the third-most watched episode of any TV series in history. The show was nominated for 37 Emmy Awards, including for Chomsky’s direction of the third episode of the series.

Chomsky followed up “Roots” the next year by directing every episode of “Holocaust,” an NBC miniseries that follows the outbreak of World War II from the perspective of a German Jewish family. The miniseries earned Chomsky his first Emmy win, and featured a young Meryl Streep in her breakout role. Over the next few years, Chomsky worked prolifically as a director for TV movies and miniseries; his notable credits included “Evita Peron,” “I Was a Mail Order Bride,” “Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna” and “Strauss Dynasty.” He also began producing several of the miniseries he directed, including “The Deliberate Stranger,” “Billionaire Boys Club” and “Brotherhood of the Rose.”

In 1980, Chomsky directed “Attica,” a television movie about the real-life Attica prison uprising, which starred Morgan Freeman and earned him his second Emmy win. His third win was for the TV movie “Inside the Third Reich,” a TV movie about Albert Speer, the architect and ally for Adolph Hitler, while his final Emmy came for producing “Peter the Great,” about Russian czar Peter I. During his acceptance speech for “Inside the Third Reich,” he commented that he received awards for making projects about events that ““never should have happened.” His final credit before retiring was for directing and producing the 1995 TV movie “Catherine the Great,” which starred Catherine Zeta-Jones in the title role.

Chomsky is survived by his three sons, David, Eric and Peter, his daughter-in-law Genelle and granddaughter Liliana. His son Peter is a prolific television producer, whose credits include “Fargo,” “Charmed” and “Dead to Me.”

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