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Gary L. Bowen

Thu, 05/25/2023 - 10:29

Television Director

April 11, 1940 - May 10, 2023

Gary Lidell Bowen, a television director and longtime member of the Directors Guild of America, died on May 10 in Malibu, Calif., where he lived with his wife, Ruth Preven, and their dog, Kimba.

The couple split their time between Malibu and Amagansett. Mr. Bowen, who had kidney disease, was 83.

An active tennis player at Sportime in Amagansett and at the Malibu Racquet Club, he and his wife led a “festive life full of hard work, laughter, and joy out on the Island,” his family wrote. “Gary was an avid reader and particularly liked” the columns in The East Hampton Star by his doubles partner, Jack Graves, they said. His West Coast doubles partner, Lloyd Goldwater, had recently dropped to number three in the world for his age group. “Gary loved that detail.”

“Over nearly 50 years, Ruth and Gary carried on with a variety of local characters and neighbors, many of whom have, sadly, predeceased Gary, including Rona Jaffe, Joe Heller, and another of Gary’s tennis partners, Alan Seligson,” said the family. In Amagansett, the couple were regulars at the old Gordon’s restaurant, often with his wife’s sister, Libby, and her husband, Dr. Saul Moroff. “Gary brought his director’s aesthetic to his work and into his home with Ruth, where you could easily find them heading off to a party in costume or lounging in the dunes with their rescue dogs Molly or Kimba, as Esther Kartiganer, the longtime ‘60 Minutes’ producer, diligently conducted a D.I.Y. repair on the freezer with a hairdryer.”

Mr. Bowen was born to Robert Bowen and the former Dorothy Pinhero on April 11, 1940, in Millville, N.J. Theirs was a musical family, which no doubt influenced his later career path.

He and his older brother, R. Blair, attended Millville High School. He was an accomplished basketball player who broke several scoring records during his high school years. He earned a scholarship to Brown University, where he played basketball and tennis. After graduating in 1962, he taught speech and drama at the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J., before heading west to earn a master’s degree in arts from the University of California Los Angeles, where he won the William Morris Award for excellence in theater directing. 

In the early 1970s, Mr. Bowen was chairman of the humanities department at the Storm King School in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y. He studied for a doctorate in theater, history, and criticism at New York University while also working on iconic children’s television shows, including “Captain Kangaroo,” “The Electric Company,” and “Sesame Street.”

He broke into soap opera directing at CBS, where he worked on  “Secret Storm” and “The Guiding Light.” This led to directing contracts with various network serials, among them “The Doctors,” “Loving,” “As the World Turns,” “The Best of Families,” “One Life to Live,” and “Santa Barbara.” When his wife began producing Off Broadway plays, Mr. Bowen contributed his directing talent to a pair of Elliot Caplin plays at the Quaigh Theater and Playwrights Horizons: “A Nickel for Picasso” and “Meegan’s Game.”

In the 1990s, Mr. Bowen led a team to Milan, Italy, where he directed a 65-episode international telenovela based on the Judith Krantz novel “Secrets.” Later, he traveled to Moscow where, for Sony International Television, he trained the directing team that produced “Poor Anastasia,” a widely hailed, first-ever, Russian-language telenovela.

Mr. Bowen loved his family, dogs, yoga, Scrabble, and the ocean, his family wrote. “Gary elevated daily life for his loved ones into memorable and dramatic experiences. . . . As a natural leader, he brought cheer and had a song for every occasion. His generosity and playfulness will be especially missed.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Lara Sabina Bowen of Albany, and his three stepchildren, Eric, Anne, and Joshua Preven of Los Angeles.



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