Tom Gries got his start as a director during the golden age of television and moved on to such assignments as "The Westerner," "The Court of Last Resort," and "East Side/West Side," a story about a social worker in NYC, for which he won an Emmy. Other directorial jobs came his way on classic series including "I Spy," the thrilling spy drama "Mission: Impossible," and the kitschy superhero show "Batman." One of Gries greatest credits, however, was as a writer/director on the Western feature "Will Penny," starring Charlton Heston as an aging cowhand. Gries went on to make two other films with Heston, the much less successful "Number One" and "The Hawaiians," based on the novel by James Michener. Later, he worked on films with such box-office stars as Burt Reynolds and Charles Bronson; with Bronson, Gries made "Breakheart Pass," before returning to the small screen to direct the powerfully disturbing "Helter Skelter," about the Manson family murders. During post-production on his last film, a biopic about the boxer Muhammad Ali called "The Greatest," Gries collapsed and died of a heart attack while playing tennis. He was 54 years old.