Piers Haggard, ‘Pennies From Heaven’ Director Who Worked With Liza Minnelli, Dies at 83

Director Piers Haggard, best known for his film “Pennies From Heaven” and for establishing directing guild Directors U.K., has died. He was 83.

No cause of death was given but in a statement his agents at Casarotto said he “died peacefully” on Jan. 11. “He is deeply missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and the industry at large,” the statement said.

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“[He was] a warm-hearted and generous man, full of energy, whose family was a large part of his life as both a husband, father and grandfather,” the statement continued. “Piers’ other great passion was as a campaigner of the rights of his fellow directors. He was instrumental in helping to create the Directors Guild of Great Britain and Directors and Producers Rights Society, which today form Directors U.K., an organisation Piers remained deeply involved with up until his passing.”

Haggard’s career spanned over five decades and a variety of industries, including film, television and theater. His mini-series “Pennies From Heaven” featured Bob Hoskins as a travelling music salesman and won a BAFTA for Most Original Programme in 1979.. Haggard also worked with stars including Liza Minnelli, Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren and Maureen Lipman.

Haggard was born in London in 1939 to Morna Gillespie and actor, poet and novelist Stephen Haggard. He began his career as an assistant director at the Royal Court and moved into television in 1965, directing shows including the BBC’s “Thirty Minute Theatre.”

He later moved into film, directing features including 1970’s “Wedding Night” and “The Blood on Satan’s Claw.”

Haggard was also integral in the fight for directors to secure rights and recognition, establishing and serving as chairman of the Directors Guild of Great Britain (now Directors U.K.) among other organizations. He finally stepped down from the board of Directors U.K. in 2017.

He also served as vice president and chairman of the Federation of European Film Directors from 2009-2013. He was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to film, television, and theatre.

Haggard is survived by his four children from his first marriage to Christiane Stokes, his second wife Anna Sklovsky and their two children as well as thirteen grandchildren.

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