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Finding Aid for the Daniel Petrie Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Daniel Petrie Collection
    Collection number: 262
    Creator: Petrie, Daniel 1920-2004
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575


    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Performing Arts Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish if the Performing Arts Special Collectionsdoes not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Daniel Petrie Collection, 262, Performing Arts Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.


    Daniel Petrie (November 26, 1920-August 22, 2004)was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, the youngest of six children born to William and Mary Campbell Petrie. His mother was a teacher, his father owned and operated a small soft drink company.
    Daniel's brothers chose not to go to college, but when it came time for Daniel to go, it was the height of the Depression. The only way possible for him to go to college, his mother told him, was to earn a scholarship, which he did, winning the Knights of Columbus Scholarship to St. Francis Xavier University in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Daniel would hitchhike to St. Francis Xavier, and back home for the holidays.
    After graduating from college with an Arts degree, Daniel immediately joined the Canadian Army and was sent to Officer Training School. Three months later, he was a Lieutenant overseas in the early stages of World War II. Stationed outside of London, Daniel was injured in a motorcycle accident months into his tour. He was shipped home to Canada for surgery, and honorably discharged.
    After his recovery, Daniel became the first Canadian soldier to study in the United States under the G.I. Bill of Rights and traveled to New York to enroll at Columbia University. A chance meeting with producer Herman Shumlin led to his being cast in the Broadway production of "Kiss Them For Me," with Richard Widmark and Judy Holiday. He next played a major role in the road company of "I Remember Mama," starring Mady Christians.
    When that tour closed prematurely in Chicago, he decided that an actor's life was too chancy for him. He returned to his academic studies, at Northwestern University, where he completed his Ph.D. course work. He then was appointed chairman of the speech, radio and television departments at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, which was one of the first colleges in America to utilize TV cameras on-campus.
    Soon enough, he was called back to Chicago to direct for NBC- His acclaimed program, "Stud's Place," with Studs Terkel, caught the attention of Billy Rose and Jed Harris, who brought Petrie to New York to direct their dramatic anthology series, "The Billy Rose Show."
    In 1958 Dan directed his first feature, The Bramble Bush, starring Richard Burton and a stellar cast. His next feature was A Raisin in the Sun with Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, which opened in 1961. Dan and the film were both honored at the Cannes Film Festival that year with the picture earning a Palm d'Or Nomination and Dan winning the Gary Cooper Award for Human Values.
    During these years he continued to direct for television during its "golden age," including The United States Steel Hour, Omnibus, The Defenders, and East Side-West Side, which marked the television debut of George C. Scott. There were occasional forays into the theatre - A Shadow of My Enemy (based on the Hiss-Chambers case) had a short Broadway run, and the Petrie-directedWho'll Save the Plowboy written by Frank Gilroy won the Obie Award for best play in 1961. A portion of the 60s was spent in London, where Dan directed Jennifer Jones and Michael Parks in The Idol and Susan Hayward in Stolen Hours.
    In 1970, the Petrie family moved to Los Angeles, where Dan worked with Lloyd Bridges and Shirley Jones on Silent Night, Lonely Night – the first two-hour drama ever broadcast. Soon after there were feature films, including cult hits Buster & Billie, Lifeguard (with Sam Elliott, Anne Archer and Kathleen Quinlan) and The Betsy, starring Sir Laurence Olivier, Robert Duvall and Katharine Ross. Movies for TV like Hec Ramsey, starring Richard Boone, and The Man and the City, starring Anthony Quinn, were made into series.
    Dan made television history in 1977 when he directed three of the five Emmy Award nominees for Best Production- Sybil, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years and Harry Truman: Plain Speaking. All three programs garnered Emmys, and for the second consecutive year, Daniel Petrie was voted Best Director by both the Academy and the Directors Guild. Sybil earned him a Golden Globe and the coveted Peabody Award. A few years later, Dan received another DGA Award for The Dollmaker, starring Jane Fonda.
    In 1980 Dan directed Resurrection, which starred Ellen Burstyn and Eva Le Gallienne. Both received Academy Award nominations. Then came Fort Apache, the Bronx starring Paul Newman and Ed Asner. From there Dan returned to Nova Scotia and his hometown of Glace Bay to direct his autobiographical screenplay, The Bay Boy. Starring a 16-year old Kiefer Sutherland in his feature debut, and acclaimed international star, Liv Ullman, the film was nominated for Genies (Canada's Oscar) in six categories, winning for Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
    In the nineties, Dan went back and forth between features and TV Specials. He directed Cocoon: The Return (Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and all the original stars); Rocket Gibralter with Burt Lancaster, Kevin Spacey and Macauley Culkin; Square Dance with Jane Alexander, Jason Robards, and Wynona Ryder; and Lassie (Tom Guiry and Richard Farnsworth). For television, Hallmark Hall of Fame production, My Name Is Bill W. starring James Woods (Emmy Award) and James Garner; Mark Twain and Me, starring Jason Robards (Emmy Award and Cable Ace for children's programming); Kissinger and Nixon (Ron Silver, Beau Bridges, Emmy nominated); Calm At Sunset, another Hallmark Hall of Fame; and the CBS Miniseries Seasons of Love with Peter Strauss.
    His feature, The Assistant, (Armin Mueller-Stahl, Joan Plowright, and Gil Bellows) which he directed as well as adapted from the Bernard Malamud novel of the same name, played at film festivals and aired on HBO. Movies for television included Monday After the Miracle starring Roma Downey, Moira Kelly and Billy Campbell, and Inherit the Wind for Showtime, starring Jack Lemmon (Emmy Nomination and Golden Globe Award), George C. Scott (SAG Nomination), and Beau Bridges (Emmy Nomination). Inherit the Wind won Dan another DGA Nomination. Dan's final films - also for Showtime- were Walter and Henry (John Larroquette, Kate Nelligan, James Coburn), which was nominated for a 2002 Daytime Emmy, and Wild Iris with Gena Rowlands (Emmy nominated) and Laura Linney (Emmy Award).
    In 2002, Dan was proud to receive his third honorary doctorate, this one from the American Film Institute. The Petrie family was honored by the AFI Associates with the Platinum Circle Award for their contributions to the entertainment industry.
    At the time of his passing, Daniel remained hard at work on a screenplay, Sable Island, adapted from Thomas Radall's acclaimed Canadian novel, "The Nymph and the Lamp." Sable Island is currently in development with a Canadian producer.
    Dan's greatest source of pride was his family: wife Dorothea (an active Producer), sons Dan Jr. (Writer/Director) and Donald (Director), and twin daughters, Mary (Writer) and June (Producer), plus seven grandchildren.