LOS ANGELES — Famous director Richard Sarafian died Wednesday night at age 83 in Southern California.

Sarafian was best known for his film Vanishing Point, a story about an auto pursuit through the Nevada desert involving a Vietnam veteran and his drug dealer.

He directed numerous films and, earlier in his career, TV shows that included episodes of “Gunsmoke,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Batman.” He also acted, appearing as hitman Vinnie in the Warren Beatty satire “Bulworth” and gangster Jack Dragna in Beatty’s “Bugsy.”

In “Dr. Doolittle 2,” he did a comic turn as the voice of the God Beaver, a don of the dam who ran the forest like a Corleone with buck teeth.

The Associated Press reports that Sarafian died at a Santa Monica hospital on Wednesday after suffering from pneumonia. He contracted it while recovering from a fall.

“I had absolutely no idea that this thing would survive all these years,” Sarafian said about the 1971 hit film.

Born April 28, 1930, in New York City, Richard Caspar Sarafian was the son of Armenian immigrants. He attended New York University but “was a rotten student, drinking and carousing,” he told the Armenian Reporter in 2008. “To make life easier, I took a two-point course in writing and directing pictures. I got an A!”

Sarafian was married to Helen Joan Altman who died two years ago, after divorcing Sarafian and later remarrying him.
Sarafian is survived by five children, sons Deren, Damon, Richard Jr., Tedi, and his daughter Catherine, all of whom work in the film industry.

Sarafian was an iconic influence on film and was remembered by directors like Quentin Tarantino.

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