Jerry Foley, ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ Director, Dies at 68

Jerry Foley, the longtime director of David Letterman’s late night talk shows, has died. He was 68.

Foley died Sunday at Albany Medical Center in New York after a skiing accident in Vermont, family friend Ryan J. Wiggins told The Hollywood Reporter.

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The lifelong New Yorker was born in 1956 and raised in Staten Island. He served as the director and supervising producer of Letterman’s late night talk shows for 25 years — a control room feat considering Foley had to track and capture the host’s perpetual and unpredictable comedy antics.

“Your primary responsibility is not to get in the way. Don’t smother it. Don’t miss it,” Foley told DGA Quarterly in 2009 of capturing Letterman and his guests performing onstage, cutting back and forth between the smirking or mugging host and a guest or widening to two-shots — or over to Letterman’s music director and sidekick Paul Shaffer.

Then there was Foley and his team following Letterman spontaneously tossing a notecard at the prop window and having to match that with the sound of shattering glass or having a camera follow Letterman into the audience or out a stage door exit where a cameraperson was often strategically placed.

The USC graduate started his career with Letterman as the technical director of NBC’s Late Night With David Letterman. He followed the legendary funnyman to CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman in 1993, became the director in 1995 and remained with the show until its conclusion in May 2015.

Foley was nominated for 24 Emmy Awards and nine DGA Awards, a record for anyone working on a variety TV series. In all, he directed nearly 4,000 hours of late night television.

“Jerry was the beating heartbeat of the Late Show With David Letterman and directed some of the most iconic moments in music and TV history,” TV producer Kim Reynolds, who began her career at The Late Show alongside Foley, said. “He was the North Star for so many people in this industry and was known for his incredible humor, quick wit and sarcasm that went unmatched.”

The variety TV veteran also had credits like producing and directing the America Salutes You benefit concerts for Sinclair Networks and the 2016 NBC primetime special Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come.

Survivors include by his wife, Ann Marie, son Quinn and siblings Kevin, James — a director of films including 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross — Eileen and Jo Ann.

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