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March 24, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Harry Harris, 86, who had a five-decade career directing TV series and made-for-TV movies and won an Emmy Award for directing an episode of "Fame" in 1982, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles, his family said. He had myelodysplasia, a blood disorder.

After working as a film editor for the Desilu television studio in the late 1950s, Harris got his chance to direct in 1960 on the Steve McQueen western TV series, "Wanted: Dead or Alive."

He went on to direct hundreds of episodes of TV series in the next 47 years, including dozens of installments of "Gunsmoke," "Land of the Giants," "Eight Is Enough," "The Waltons," "Falcon Crest," "In the Heat of the Night" and "7th Heaven." His extensive TV directing credits include "Rawhide," "Daniel Boone," "Branded," "Lost in Space," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "Magnum, P.I." and "Beverly Hills, 90210."

He also directed several made-for-TV movies, including "Waltons" and "Eight Is Enough" reunion programs and TV movie versions of "Swiss Family Robinson" (1975) and "Alice in Wonderland" (1988).

Harris was born Sept. 8, 1922, in Kansas City, Mo., and moved to Los Angeles in 1937. He attended UCLA before landing a job at Columbia Pictures, where he became an assistant film editor.

He enlisted in the Army Air Forces during World War II and served with the First Motion Picture Unit at the old Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, working as a sound effects editor on newsreels and training films.

In addition to his Emmy for "Fame," Harris was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for directing a 1983 "ABC Afterschool Special" called "Have You Ever Been Ashamed of Your Parents?" starring Jennifer Jason Leigh.

He also earned Emmy and Directors Guild of America nominations for directing a 1973 episode of "The Waltons."

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