CATEGORIES Movie News
Director Paul Wendkos, best known for directing the sun-and-surf 'Gidget' movies starring Sandra Dee, has died at the age of 84, Reuters reports.

Wendkos' career spanned 50 years and covered more than 100 films and television shows, including several episodes of 'The Untouchables' and 'I Spy.' Family representative, C. Christie Craig said Wendkos died Thursday in Malibu, California, of a lung infection following a stroke. Director Paul Wendkos, best known for directing the sun-and-surf 'Gidget' movies starring Sandra Dee, has died at the age of 84, Reuters reports.

Wendkos' career spanned 50 years and covered more than 100 films and television shows, including several episodes of 'The Untouchables' and 'I Spy.' Family representative, C. Christie Craig said Wendkos died Thursday in Malibu, California, of a lung infection following a stroke.

Although the 'Gidget' films were lighthearted, Wendkos also tackled much edgier subjects, such as the 1971 occult thriller 'The Mephisto Waltz,' starring Alan Alda. His first narrative film was the 1957 noirish low-budget drama 'The Burglar,' with Dan Duryea and Jayne Mansfield, who was an unknown at the time. The stylishly directed film, shot on the streets New York and his native Philadelphia, impressed legendary Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohen, who brought Wendkos to Hollywood.

Prior to that, Wendkos' helmed the documentary 'Dark Interlude' about rehabilitating the blind. He went on to work primarily in television, directing movies and miniseries, including 'The Legend of Lizzie Borden,' starring Elizabeth Montgomery, and 'A Woman Called Moses' with Cicely Tyson as Harriet Tubman.

Wendkos was born Sept. 20, 1925. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and attended Columbia University in New York and later studied film history and aesthetics at the New School for Social Research. He married Ruth Burnat in 1953. After her death in 1978, he wed former NBC television producer Lin Bolen. He is survived by Bolen; Jordan, his son from his first marriag; a granddaughter, a niece and nephews.