On Wednesday, May 10th, 2023, Gary Lidell Bowen, television director and longtime member of the DGA, passed away peacefully in Malibu, California, where he lived with his loving wife, Ruth Preven, and their dog, Kimba. Garywas 83 years old. He is survived by his daughter, Lara Sabina Bowen, of Albany, New York, and his three step children, Eric, Anne, and Joshua Preven, in California.
Gary L. Bowen was born on April 11, 1940, into a musical family in Millville, New Jersey, where Gary and his older brother, R. Blair, attended Millville High School. Gary was an accomplished basketball player who broke several scoring records during his high school years.
Gary earned a scholarship to Brown University where he played varsity basketball and tennis. After graduating in1962, he taught speech and drama at the Peddie School in Highstown, NJ. He then headed west to earn an MFA from UCLA, where he won the William Morris Award for excellence in theater directing.
In the early 70’s, Gary was chairman of the humanities department at the Storm King School in Cornwall on Hudson. He studied for a doctorate in theater, history, and criticism at NYU while also working on iconic children’s television shows including Captain Kangaroo, The Electric Company, and Sesame Street.
Gary broke into soap opera directing at CBS, where he worked as a staff associate director for Secret Storm and The Guiding Light. This led to directing contracts throughout the 1980’s and 90’s with various network serials, including The Doctors, Loving, As The World Turns, The Best of Families, One Life To Live, and Santa Barbara. When Ruth began producing off Broadway Theater, Gary contributed his directing talent to a pair of Eliot Caplin plays at the Quaigh Theater and Playwright’s Horizons: A Nickel for Picasso and Meegan’s Game.
Also in the 90’s, Gary led a team to Milan, Italy, where he directed a 65-episode international telenovela based on the Judith Krantz novel,Secrets. Later, he traveled to Moscow, Russia, where, for SONY International TV, he trained the directing team that produced Poor Anastasia, a widely hailed first-ever Russian language telenovela.
Gary loved his family, dogs, tennis, yoga, scrabble, and the ocean. He and Ruth split their time between Amagansett, NY, and Malibu, CA, where he brought his director’s aesthetic to his work and into his home. He elevated daily life for his loved ones into memorable and dramatic experiences. Gary was a natural leader who brought cheer and had a song for every occasion. His generosity and playfulness will be especially missed.