After starting his career as a writer for CBS radio, Rod Amateau worked his way up the 20th Century Fox ladder from junior writer to test director to second-unit director to dialogue director before finally making his feature directorial debut with "The Bushwackers" (1952), a Western of interest mostly for the sermonizing in his (and Tom Gries') script, which offered parallels to the political climate in America during the post-Civil War and post-World War II eras. Though he directed another film that year ("Monsoon"), he would not return to features for 17 years, carving out instead a substantial career as a producer-director-writer of TV series, beginning with "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" (CBS, 1950-58).
Despite backing a few duds (i.e., "The Charlie Farrell Show", CBS 1956; "Peter Loves Mary", CBS 1960-61), Amateau boasted an impressive track record during the 1950s and 60s with his high-profile involvement in hits like "Private Secretary" (CBS, 1953-57), "Dobie Gillis" (CBS, 1959-63), "Mr. Ed" (syndicated 1960-61; CBS, 1961-66) and "The Patty Duke Show" (ABC, 1963-66), not to mention directing the pilot episode of "Gilligan's Island" for CBS in 1964. He was a dominant force behind the short-lived "My Mother the Car" (NBC, 1965-66) and the even shorter-lived "O.K. Crackerby" (ABC, 1965-66) and directed a couple of unsuccessful pilots ("Where There's Smokey", CBS 1966, starring Soupy Sales; "Weekend", NBC 1967) before returning to features.
Amateau's sitcom success did not translate to the big screen comedies he wrote and/or directed ("Hook, Line and Sinker" 1969; "The Statue" 1970; "Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You" 1971; and "Where Does It Hurt?" 1972). Ironically, his most successful films were two thrillers, "The Wilby Conspiracy" (1975, which he co-adapted and directed the action sequences) and Sam Peckinpah's "The Osterman Weekend" (1983, on which he served as second unit director). He scored one more big TV hit as a supervising producer and director of "The Dukes of Hazzard" (CBS, 1979-1985) and also wrote episodes for "The Fall Guy" (ABC, 1981-86), but clearly his batting average was slipping as his subsequent string of unsold pilots attests. Amateau produced, helmed and co-scripted the disappointing "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie" (1987), his last directorial credit to date.