Art Wolff, Director of ‘Seinfeld’ Pilot, Dies at 82

Eli Countryman
·2-min read

Art Wolff, known for his directorial work on projects like “Seinfeld,” died of congestive heart failure on Monday at the age of 82. His daughter Juliet Wolff confirmed his death at Mount Sinai West in New York City to Variety.

The theater and television director got his start on “Search for Tomorrow,” the soap opera that ran from 1951 to 1986. But his most notable directing gig came when he worked on the pilot episode for “Seinfeld.” The 1989 episode, titled “”The Seinfeld Chronicles” or “Good News, Bad News,” earned enough favorable reviews for NBC to order the first season.

Other projects Wolff directed included episodes of “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “The Paula Poundstone Show” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.”

Wolff also directed for the theater throughout his lifetime. At the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York, the director worked on Shel Silverstein plays, including a version of “The Lady or the Tiger” that starred Richard Dreyfuss. Altogether, he directed the premieres for 14 of Silverstein’s plays.

Prior to his death, Wolff took on the role of acting coach, ultimately creating the Art Wolff Acting Studio to help teach growing actors. It moved from Los Angeles to New York in 2017. He is credited as having been the dialogue coach for Dakota Fanning on 2001’s “I Am Sam.” Wolff was also an acting coach on the 2013 film “Ashley.”

Wolff, an avid teacher, worked at NYU Tisch School of the Arts teaching film history, acting and directing for seven years. He also taught at Long Island University and several other locations.

He is survived by his wife Donna; children Anthony and Juliet from his first wife Virginia; and his two grandsons Max and Clark.

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