William Theodore Kotcheff
April 7, 1931
|Other names||William Kotcheff, William T. Kotcheff|
|Spouse(s)||Sylvia Kay (1960–1972; divorced; 3 children,|
Laifun Chung (?–present; 2 children))
William Theodore Kotcheff (born April 7, 1931) is a Canadian film and television director and producer, known primarily for his work on British and American television productions such as Armchair Theatre and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He has also directed numerous successful films including the Australian Wake in Fright (1971), action films such as the original Rambo movie First Blood (1982) and Uncommon Valor (1983), and comedies like Weekend at Bernie's (1989), Fun with Dick and Jane (1977), and North Dallas Forty (1979). He is sometimes credited as William T. Kotcheff, and resides in Beverly Hills, California. Given his ancestry, Kotcheff has Bulgarian citizenship.
Kotcheff's given name is Velichko Todor Kostadin (Bulgarian: Величко Тодор Костадин) Kotcheff, although he was registered in official documents as William Theodore Kotcheff. He was born in Toronto to a family of Bulgarian immigrants, who changed their last name from Tsochev (Bulgarian: Цочев) to Kotcheff for convenience. His father was born in Plovdiv, while his mother was of Macedonian Bulgarian background, from Vambel, today in Greece, but grew up in Varna, Bulgaria.
After graduating in English Literature from University College, University of Toronto, Kotcheff began his television career at the age of twenty-four when he joined the staff of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with television still very much in its infancy in the country. Kotcheff was the youngest director on the staff of the CBC, where he worked for two years on shows such as General Motors Theatre, Encounter, First Performance and On Camera.
In 1958, he left Canada to live and work in the United Kingdom. He was inspired by his compatriot Sydney Newman, who had been the Director of Drama at the CBC and had moved to the U.K. to take up a similar position at ABC Television, one of the franchise holders of the ITV network who also produced much of the nationally networked programming for the channel.
At ABC, Newman as producer of the popular Armchair Theatre anthology drama programme, employed Kotcheff as a director of this series between 1958 and 1960. Kotcheff was responsible for directing some of the best-remembered installments in the Armchair Theatre anthology series from 1958 to 1964.
During Underground, transmitted live on 30 November 1958, Kotcheff was required to cope with one of the actors suddenly dying while between two of his scenes.
He also did Hour of Mystery, I'll Have You to Remember (1961) by Clive Exton, and episodes of BBC Sunday-Night Play, ITV Television Playhouse, Espionage, First Night, ABC Stage 67, Drama 61-67 and ITV Playhouse.
Kotcheff also worked in the theatre.
British feature films
He went on to direct other features during the decade, including Life at the Top (1965) and Two Gentlemen Sharing (1969).
He also directed The Human Voice (1967) for British television, starring Ingrid Bergman from a story by Jean Cocteau and TV remakes of The Desperate Hours (1967) and Of Mice and Men (1968). He directed a concert for TV, At the Drop of Another Hat.
Kotcheff directed the Australian film Wake in Fright (USA: Outback, 1971; re-released with its original title, 2012). It won much critical acclaim in Europe, and was Australia's entry at the Cannes Film Festival. (In 2009, Wake in Fright was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray disc in a fully restored version.) Kotcheff returned to television, directing the Play for Today production Edna, the Inebriate Woman (1971) for the BBC, which won him a British Academy Television Award for Best Director. In 2000, the play was voted one of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of the 20th century in a poll of industry professionals conducted by the British Film Institute.
Return to Canada
He returned home to Canada, where he directed an adaptation of his friend and one-time housemate Mordecai Richler's novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival making it the first English Canadian dramatic feature film to win an international award.
He relocated to Hollywood. He directed Fun with Dick and Jane (1977) which was a big hit. He followed it with the comedy Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978) then wrote and directed North Dallas Forty (1979) which was critically acclaimed.
Kotcheff did a Canadian film about cults, Split Image (1982), then had his biggest success to date with the Sylvester Stallone movie First Blood (1982), the first in the Rambo series. He did another Vietnam-themed action movie Uncommon Valor (1983) then returned to Canada to make Joshua Then and Now (1985), from the novel by Mordecai Richler.
He did the occasional feature film such as Folks! (1992) and The Shooter (1995). He did TV movies like What Are Families for? (1993), Love on the Run (1994), Family of Cops (1995), A Husband, a Wife and a Lover (1996), Borrowed Hearts (1997), Cry Rape (1999). He joined the staff of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where he acts as Executive Producer and director.
Kotcheff lives in Beverly Hills with his wife Laifun. They have two children Alexandra Kotcheff, a filmmaker, and Thomas Kotcheff, a composer and pianist. He has three children from a previous marriage to the actress Sylvia Kay: Aaron, Katrina and Joshua.
In February 2016, Kotcheff applied for Bulgarian citizenship via the Bulgarian consulate in Los Angeles, and was granted this during a visit to Bulgaria in March. Given his Macedonian heritage, Kotcheff served on the Board of Directors of the Macedonian Arts Council. Per Kotcheff himself, there is not a difference between Macedonian and Bulgarian.
- Director (Film)
- Tiara Tahiti (1962)
- Life at the Top (1965)
- Two Gentlemen Sharing (1969)
- Wake in Fright (1971)
- The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974)
- Billy Two Hats (1974)
- Fun with Dick and Jane (1977)
- Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)
- North Dallas Forty (1979)
- Split Image (1982)
- First Blood (1982)
- Uncommon Valor (1983)
- Joshua Then and Now (1985)
- Switching Channels (1988)
- Weekend at Bernie's (1989)
- Winter People (1989)
- Folks! (1992)
- The Shooter (1995)
- Borrowed Hearts (1997)
- Director (Television)
- On Camera (1956)—as W.T. Kotcheff
- Hour of Mystery (1957)
- Underground (1958)
- No Trams to Lime Street (1959)
- After the Funeral (1960)
- Lena, O My Lena (1960)
- I'll Have You Remember (1961)
- BBC Sunday-Night Play (1962-1963)
- ITV Television Playhouse (1963)
- Espionage (1963)
- Land of My Dreams (1964)
- First Night (1963-1964)
- Drama 64 (1964)
- Armchair Theatre (1958-1964)
- The Human Voice (1967)
- The Desperate Hours (1967)
- Edna, the Inebriate Woman (1971)
- What Are Families for? (1993)
- Red Shoe Diaries 3: Another Woman's Lipstick (1993)
- Love on the Run (1994)
- A Family of Cops (1995)
- Red Shoe Diaries 5: Weekend Pass (1995)
- A Husband, a Wife and a Lover (1996)
- Buddy Faro (1998)
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999)
- Crime in Connecticut: The Story of Alex Kelly (1999)
- Making It Like a Man: Canadian Masculinities in Practice, Editor Christine Ramsay, Publisher Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 2012, ISBN 1554582792, Fathers and Mothers chapter.
- "20 v"prosa: Ted Kochev" 20 въпроса: Тед Кочев [20 questions: Ted Kotcheff]. Capital.bg (in Bulgarian). Economedia. 2016-02-29.
- "Ted Kotcheff Biography (1931-)". www.filmreference.com. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
- Slaviani, Tom 24, Slavianski komitet v Bŭlgaria, Komitet za bŭlgarite v chuzb̈ina, 1968, str. 87.
- Encyclopedia of Canada's peoples - Paul R. Magocsi, Multicultural History, pp. 287 - 292, University of Toronto Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8020-2938-8. Books.google.bg. Retrieved 2011-05-11.
- Loring M. Danforth The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World, pp. 85-89: "The largest number of Slavic-speaking immigrants from Macedonia came to the United States during the first decades of the twentieth century, at which time they identified themselves either as Bulgarians or as Macedonian-Bulgarians".
- "The apprenticeship of Ted Kotcheff | Toronto Star". thestar.com. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
- "Duddy and Me | By Alec Scott | Summer 2016 | University of Toronto Magazine". www.magazine.utoronto.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
- Richmond, Yale (1995-01-01). From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans. Intercultural Press. ISBN 9781877864308.
- Leyda, Jay (1977-01-01). Voices of film experience: 1894 to the present. Macmillan.
- Brown, Gene (1984-01-01). The New York Times encyclopedia of film. Times Books. ISBN 9780812910599.
-  Duddy and Me ()They were both immigrants from Bulgaria, she was of Macedonian descent
- Hartl, John (October 25, 2012). "'Wake in Fright': Restored outback drama hasn't lost chilling effect". The Seattle Times.
- "Berlinale 1974: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- В-к "Труд", 11.02.2016 г. Режисьорът на "Рамбо" Тед Кочев иска българско гражданство.
- "Hollywood legend applies for Bulgarian citizenship". www.europost.bg. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
- US Director Ted Kotcheff Granted Bulgarian Citizenship, Sofia News Agency, March 19, 2016.
- Режисьорът Тед Кочев: България и Македония са едно. Вестник Труд, 16.03.2016 г.
- "Ted Kotcheff Awards". IMDb. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- "2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards General Results". Independent Publisher. Retrieved May 30, 2018.