Peter Hunt

Peter Huls Hunt (December 19, 1938 – April 26, 2020) was an American theatrefilm, and television director and theatrical lighting designer.

Hunt was born in Pasadena, California, the son of Gertrude (née Orphüls) and George Smith Hunt II, a Minnesota-born industrial designer.[1] He attended Hotchkiss School and then Yale University, where he received a BA in 1961 and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama in 1963. Hunt began his professional career as a lighting designer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 1958. He became Artistic Director in 1989, a post he held until 1995. He had an active career on Broadway as well, first as a lighting designer and then director. In 1969, he helmed the Broadway musical 1776, winning the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for his efforts. His next project, Georgy, was less successful, closing after only four performances. He received a second Tony nomination for Goodtime Charley in 1975. His last Broadway project was The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1997. He directed several benefit shows for the Actors Fund in Los Angeles, including staged readings of Sunset Boulevard and Casablanca.

Hunt’s feature film credits include the screen adaptation of 1776 and Give ’em Hell, Harry! He directed numerous television movies, including four based on the Hart to Hart series and Dead Man’s Island starring Barbara Eden. He also directed episodes of BaywatchBaywatch Nights, and Touched by an Angel, among others. He was producer-director of four of the feature adaptations in the Peabody Award-winning Mark Twain Series on PBS including Life on the Mississippi and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Hunt was the uncle of actress Helen Hunt, through his half-brother, director Gordon Hunt. He resided in Los Angeles, California. He was married to former actress Barbette Tweed, daughter of lawyer/civic leader Harrison Tweed. The couple had three children.

Hunt died on April 26, 2020 from complications of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 81.[2]


Peter Hunt remarks by Wilford Welch

Peter began his career as a lighting designer, after first assisting the legendary Abe Feder on “Time Remembered” and “Camelot” among other major productions.  Setting out on his own, his lighting of plays, musicals, ballet, and opera was seen on Broadway as well as Canada and London.

It wasn’t long before Peter began directing in addition to lighting plays.  His work at The Hartford Stage Co., Williamstown, and Lincoln Center, where he directed a new musical by Yale classmate Austin Pendleton and produced by Richard Rogers, led to his directing the Tony Award winning musical “1776” (personally winning the Tony for Best Director of a Broadway Musical).

His subsequent Broadway directing credits include “Scratch,” “Gregory,” “Goodtime Charley,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” and two classic one-man shows with James Whitmore, “Give ‘em Hell Harry” and “Bully.”  He also directed the feature film versions of “1776,” “Give ‘em Hell Harry,” and “Bully.”

For television, Peter has directed countless pilots, series episodes, and movies-of-the-week, including an award winning adaptation of Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi.” a four-hour miniseries of “Huckleberry Finn” for PBS and the Christmas perennial “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear”, starring Mickey Rooney. He began his work in television producing and directing “Adam’s Rib,” the first TV show dealing with women’s rights.  Recently, he directed 37 episodes of the hit CBS series “Touched by an Angel.”

From 1989 to 1995, Peter was Artistic Director of The Williamstown Theatre Festival where since 1958 he acted in a number of productions, did the lighting for over 100, produced 60, and directed 25, among them: “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” “Death Takes a Holiday” with Christopher Reeve, “Sherlock Holmes” with Frank Langella, “The Threepenny Opera” with Raul Julia, “Councillor-at-Law,” “The Visit,” and “Our Town,” the last two with his friend James Whitmore.

The greatest joy of his career has come from the actors he has been privileged to work with.  To name just a few: Bette Davis, Brian Dennehy, Olympia Dukakis, Lillian Gish, Stacy Keach, Ethel Merman, Francis McDormand, Roddy McDowall, Geraldine Page, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Waterston (Yale 1962), and Christopher Plummer.

As an undergraduate, the Yale Dramatic Association, with the inspired guidance of Nikos Psachropoulos, allowed Peter to learn by doing not just listening in a classroom, and imbued him with a passion for the theatre that has lasted for fifty years.

He currently resides in Brentwood, California and Montauk, New York with his wife, Barbette, and two German Shepherds, Lulu and Willie.