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Irwin Allen DIRECTOR


Irwin Allen was a writer/director/producer most remembered for his disaster films, even earning the nickname “The Master of Disaster”. As well, he was highly involved in television movies and shows. Allen was born in New York City on June 12, 1916. He studied journalism and advertising at Columbia University and went on to become a magazine editor, radio show producer, and finally, a Hollywood columnist. With so much exposure to the motion pictures while in Tinseltown, Allen became drawn to the production aspect of the industry. Consequently, in the early fifties he began to produce pictures like the thriller “Where Danger Lives” (1960), Frank Sinatra comedy “Double Dynamite” (1951), and humorous “A Girl in Every Port” (1952). He next decided to try his luck with writing and directing, and his underwater documentary “The Sea Around Us” (1953) was created. The film explored the vast expanse of the ocean to make evident the advances in oceanography. Apparently he made a smart decision, for it won the Best Documentary Feature at the 1953 Oscars. His following documentary, which he also wrote, directed, and produced, “The Animal World” (1956), showcased the wide array of species on earth, both past and present. Next he chose to move into commercial films with the historical spoof “The Story of Mankind” (1957). It turned out to be a disaster, but Allen found redemption with the box office smashes “The Big Circus” (1959), “The Lost World” (1960), and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” (1961).

In 1964, the director brought “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” to television. He was in charge of the scriptwriting, but also made directorial appearances and even lent his voice to a few scenes. The show had a successful four year run, ending in 1969 after over a hundred episodes. The year after creating the latter, Allen devised up a new series, “Lost in Space” (1965-68). He persisted on writing and producing TV shows and movies through the nineties, becoming one of the most successful science-fiction filmmakers. He crafted such hits as “The Time Tunnel” (1966-67) and “Land of the Giants” (1968-70).

In the seventies, the producer gained his status of “The Master of Disaster” with numerous popular action flicks. “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972), one of the biggest box office hit of the year, followed the passengers of an overturned cruise ship. The thrillerThe Towering Inferno” (1974) ensued, and it focused on a raging fire that threatened to destroy a newly but poorly built massive office structure. It was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, but failed to bring home the prize. An all-star list of actors filled the cast including Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and William Holden. At about the same time that he was making the latter, he fell in love with and married actress Sheila Matthews. After producing some made for television films like “Time Travelers” (1976), “Flood!” (1976), “Fire!” (1977), and “The Return of Captain Nemo” (1978), Allen directed and produced the killer bee invasion picture “The Swarm” (1978). Right after, he directed his final motion picture, “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” (1979). His last feature film production was “When Time Ran Out…” (1980). However, he transitioned his disaster themes to the small screen with productions of the TV movies “Hanging By a Thread” (1979), “The Night the Bridge Caved In” (1983), and “Cave-In!” (1983). His concluding two works were the TV version of the fantastical, star-studded extravaganza “Alice in Wonderland” (1985) and the television courtroom drama “Outrage!” (1986).In 1992, the television movie “Lost in Space” was adapted from his previous TV show.

Allen’s failing health caused him to retire in 1986, although there was speculation that he was planning a “Lost in Space” movie, which quite possibly could have resulted in the 1992 TV film. Unfortunately, he passed away from a heart attack on November 2, 1991. Allen was survived by his only wife, Sheila.

1998       Lost in Space 

1986       Outrage! 

1985       Alice in Wonderland 

1983       Cave In! 

1983       The Night the Bridge Fell Down 

1982       Aliens from Another Planet

1981       Code Red  

1980       The Memory of Eva Ryker

1980       When Time Ran Out... 

1979       Beyond the Poseidon Adventure

1979       Hanging by a Thread   

1978       The Swarm 

1978       The Return of Captain Nemo 

1977       Viva Knievel!

1977       Fire!

1976       Time Travelers

1976       Flood!

1975       Swiss Family Robinson

1975       Adventures of the Queen

1974       The Towering Inferno 

1972       The Poseidon Adventure

1971       City Beneath the Sea 

1969       City Beneath the Sea 

1968       Land of the Giants 

1968       The Man from the 25th Century

1966       The Time Tunnel  

1965       Lost in Space

1964       Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 

1962       Five Weeks in a Balloon 

1961       Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

1960       The Lost World 

1959       The Big Circus

1957       The Story of Mankind 

1956       The Animal World 

1954       Dangerous Mission  

1953       The Sea Around Us

1952       A Girl in Every Port

1951       Double Dynamite  

1950       Where Danger Lives 

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