Elliot Silverstein, who directed ‘Cat Ballou,’ ‘A Man Called Horse,’ dead at 96

The director helmed "Cat Ballou" and "A Man Called Horse."

Elliot Silverstein, who directed “Cat Ballou” and “A Man Called Horse,” died Friday. He was 96.

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According to an obituary on the website of Brezniak Funeral Directors in Newton, Massachusetts, Silverstein died in Los Angeles.

In addition to his film work, the Boston native also directed television episodes of “Naked City,” “Route 66″ and “The Twilight Zone,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Born Aug. 3, 1927, Silverstein launched his directing career on television during the 1950s on “Omnibus” and “Suspicion,” Deadline reported. During the 1960s he directed episodes of “Have Gun -- Will Travel,” “Dr. Kildare” and “The Defenders,” the entertainment news website reported.

Silverstein suggested that Lee Marvin be cast as Kid Shelleen in the 1965 film “Cat Ballou” after Kirk Douglas rejected the role in the comedy-western, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He later threatened to quit when a producer wanted to replace Marvin with José Ferrer.

Marvin responded with a performance that earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Silverstein devised an idea for the film’s Greek chorus, played by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“That set the style of the piece for me,” he said in a 2002 interview for the Directors Guild of America’s Visual History Program. “Once I had managed to get that, I knew that it would give me license to go very far with the rest of the characters and be funny.”

“A Man Called Horse” starred Richard Harris in the title role as an English aristocrat enslaved by a Native American tribe who eventually becomes its leader, Deadline reported.

Silverstein received the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America in 1985 and was named an honorary life member five years later, Deadline reported. After he retired, Silverstein taught film at the University of Southern California.

He also was instrumental in the formation of the Bill of Creative Rights for directors, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to his obituary, Silverstein is survived by his brother, Jason Silverstein.

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