January 31, 2023

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Pierce Haggard Dead: ‘Pennies From Heaven’ Director Was 83

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Director Piers Haggard, best known for his film “Pennies from Heaven” and founding the Directors Guild UK, has died. He was 83.

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

“[He was] A warm-hearted and generous man, full of energy, whose family was a big part of his life as both husband, father and grandfather,” the statement continued. ‚ÄúPiers’ other great passion was as a campaigner for the rights of his fellow directors. He helped create the Directors’ Guild of Great Britain and the Directors’ and Producers’ Rights Society, which today form Directors UK, with Pearce being deeply involved until his death.”

Haggard’s career spans more than five decades and spans a variety of industries, including film, television, and theater. His mini-series “Pennies from Heaven” featured Bob Hoskins as a traveling music salesman and won a BAFTA for Most Original Program in 1979. Haggard has 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 programs including the BBC’s “Thirty Minute Theatre”.

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

Haggard was also integral in the fight to secure directors’ rights and recognition, founding and serving as chairman of the Directors Guild of Great Britain (now Directors UK), among other organisations. He eventually resigned from the UK board of directors in 2017.

He also served as Vice President and Chairman of the European Film Directors Federation 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 Christian Stokes, his second wife Anna Skolowski, and their two children, as well as thirteen grandchildren.

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