Gabrielle Beaumont Dies: Trailblazing Director On ‘M*A*S*H,’ ‘Hill Street Blues’ And Countless Aaron Spelling Hits, Was 80

Gabrielle Beaumont, who may have directed more primetime hours of television than any other women in history, died peacefully on October 8th at her home in Spain, her brother Christopher Toyne confirmed to Deadline.

Beaumont was the first woman director on many ’80s and ’90s TV hits. Her resume includes stints on Hill Street Blues, The Waltons, Miami Vice, Cagney & Lacy, M*A*S*H, L.A. Law, Baywatch, Archie Bunker’s Place, Remington Steele, The Dukes of Hazard, Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman, Doogie Howser, M.D., Touched by an Angel and three different iterations of Star Trek.

Her big break came when she landed a meeting with Aaron Spelling, who was under pressure to hire women and other minorities behind the camera. According to Beaumont’s brother, actor-producer Christopher Toyne, Spelling didn’t bother to look at any of the footage she had brought along. He asked Beaumont, “Can you goddamn direct?” She said, “Goddamn, yes!” She left that night to take over on an episode of the Robert Urich hit, Vega$.

Beaumont became a regular behind the camera on Spelling’s shows, including Knots Landing, Hart to Hart, The Colbys, Hotel, Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 91210, 7th Heaven and of course Dynasty, on which the director lobbied for her friend, Joan Collins, to be cast.

She also directed TV movies such as NBC’s Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story starring Jamie Lee Curtis and CBS’s The Other Woman.

Beaumont was born in England to parents prominent in the British theater and film world. Her mother Diana Beaumont was a leading lady on stage and screen, and her father, Gabriel Toyne, was a well-known producer and an accomplished swordsman who was often brought in to train British actors like Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness for roles in film and on stage.

Beaumont trained at the BBC, and entered the film industry as an editor before directing a slate of horror films, including Velvet House, The Johnstown Monster and The Godsend.

Beaumont directed TV in the U.K., as well, such as the HBO mini-series Riders, TV movies like Diana: A Tribute to the People’s Princess and the BBC’s One Last Chance. The last decade of her life she spent living in Spain, shooting commercials and writing. She recently adapted her cousin Daphne du Maurier’s book, The King’s General, as a miniseries.

As a director, she has been honored with the Humanitas Award for The Other Woman, an Emmy nomination for an episode of Hill Street Blues and a DGA nomination for her work on L.A. Law.

Beaumont is preceded in death by her first husband, producer and artist, Olaf Pooley, their daughter, Amanda, and her second husband, cinematographer Michael Davis. She is survived by her brother and his wife, former Disney executive Esther Ewert, of Vancouver, Washington.

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