My friend Raymond Austin has died. As Ray Austin his CV reads like a catalogue of many of the best action and genre films and shows from the 50s right through to the end of the 90s.
Having worked for a while as Cary Grant’s chauffeur he got his start in the industry working as a stunt co-ordinator on films such as North by Northwest, Spartacus and Cleopatra. After a time he moved to the UK and became stunt arranger on The Avengers, forming a lifelong friendship with Brian Clemens, Albert Fennell and Laurie Johnson. Producer Robert S. Baker gave him his break as a director on the 1960s version of The Saint and after that, well, he was rarely out of work with stints on shows such as Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Space 1999, The Professionals, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Return of the Saint, Hart to Hart, The Fall Guy, Spenser: For Hire, the original Magnum PI, the original V, Highlander and Zorro amongst many other shows. Alongside those he worked on TV films such as The Return of the Man From UNCLE and The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man.
But it was more than that; he was a master story-teller, whether through his work as a director or his later work as an author, which he pursued after his retirement from the former. He knew how to tell a story, whether on TV, film, in print or just when you were in his presence. He was tremendously charming and charismatic and frequently self-deprecating, joking that he would go to anything, even the opening of a fridge. Lunch with him was never short, not just good food and great drink, but tremendous stories. Over the later years we kept mainly in touch through Skype calls that got ever longer. He was a lot of fun and I will miss him terribly.