While primarily noted as a director of stage and screen, Gene Saks actually began his career as an actor. Trained at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research (which was a precursor of the Actors Studio), he was a co-founder of an acting troupe in the late 1940s. Saks made his stage debut with the company in "Juno and the Paycock" in 1947 and he went on to spend the next decade and a half in a number of plays and one musical, "South Pacific." By the early 60s, he had begun his directing career with Carl Reiner's play "Enter Laughing" (1963) and went on to excel in staging comedies and musicals, including "Mame" (1966), which made a Broadway musical star of Angela Lansbury and also featured Saks' then-wife Beatrice Arthur, Bernard Slade's romantic comedy "Same Time, Next Year" (1975) with Ellen Burstyn and Charles Grodin as illicit lovers who tryst on an annual basis and the Cy Coleman musical "I Love My Wife" (1977). But Saks was perhaps best recalled for his long stage association with Neil Simon. The director helped shaped Simon's award-winning autobiographical trilogy ("Brighton Beach Memoirs" 1983, "Biloxi Blues" 1985, and "Broadway Bound" 1986) and guided a number of performances to what many critics felt were the performances of their careers. Among the latter were Matthew Broderick in "Brighton Beach Memoirs," Barry Miller in "Biloxi Blues" and Linda Lavin in "Broadway Bound." Additionally, Saks was the director of Simon's farcical "Rumors" (1988) and the playwright's Pulitzer-winning "Lost in Yonkers" (1991). A dispute over the direction of the 1993 stage musical based on "The Goodbye Girl" led to a temporary rift between Saks and Simon.On the big screen, Saks was both actor and director. In the former capacity, he was featured in films adapted from two Herb Gardner plays, "A Thousand Clowns" (1965) and "The Goodbye People" (1984) as well as one based on Simon's "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1974). In 1994, he had two prominent supporting roles as Paul Newman's lawyer friend in "Nobody's Fool" and as a colleague of Walter Matthau's Albert Einstein in "I.Q." Under Saks' direction, Robert Redford in "Barefoot in the Park" (1967) first demonstrated his easy charm and comedic abilities while Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau seemed near-perfect as Felix and Oscar in "The Odd Couple" (1968). Goldie Hawn earned an Oscar for her performance as the giddy object of affections for a dentist (Matthau) in the romantic comedy "Cactus Flower" (1969). One prominent misfire was the big screen version of "Mame" (1974) which featured a miscast Lucille Ball in the title role and Beatrice Arthur and Jane Connell reprising their stage roles. Following the European love story "A Fine Romance" (1992) starring Julie Andrews and Marcello Mastroianni, Saks' final directing credit came with a TV adaptation of the early '60s Broadway hit "Bye Bye Birdie" (ABC 1995), starring Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams and hewing closer to the original script than the 1963 film had. Saks made his big-screen farewell with a supporting role in Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry" (1997) as the title character's father. Gene Saks died of pneumonia at his East Hampton, New York home on March 28, 2015. He was 93.