Robert Butler (born November 17, 1927) is an American film director and Emmy award-winning television director. He is best known for his work in television, where he directed the pilots for a number of influential series including Star Trek and Hill Street Blues.
Butler graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he majored in English. He began his career as a stage manager and an assistant before launching his directing career with an episode of Hennesey (starring Jackie Cooper and including a young Ron Howard) and then went on to direct such shows as The Untouchables, Dr. Kildare, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Fugitive or The Twilight Zone.
Butler shot pilots for many TV series including the original Star Trek, Hogan's Heroes, Batman, The Blue Knight, Hill Street Blues, Remington Steele (a show which he also co-created), Moonlighting, Sisters, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Butler has also directed episodes for many other shows, including I Spy, Blue Light, The Invaders, Gunsmoke, The Outcasts, Mission: Impossible, Kung Fu, Hawaii Five-O, Columbo: Publish or Perish, Columbo: Double Shock, and Midnight Caller.
He directed actor Kurt Russell in four Walt Disney movies, including Guns in the Heather, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Barefoot Executive and the 1997 film Turbulence.
Butler has won two Emmy Awards for outstanding directing, the first in 1973 for the The Blue Knight pilot, and the second in 1981 for his Hill Street Blues premiere.
In 2014 Butler's work was the subject of a career retrospective at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.