Happy birthday Ralph Senensky, born May 1, 1923.
Beginning in 1958, Ralph Senensky built a long career directing television series and the occasional telefilm.
Graduating from the Pasadena Playhouse, he began his career directing in the theater, then worked as a production supervisor on Playhouse 90 and as an assistant producer on Dr. Kildare. His work stretches from The Twilight Zone through many popular sitcoms and dramas of the 60’s and 70’s.
Senensky was originally scheduled to direct “The Devil in the Dark”, but the production schedule was switched with “This Side of Paradise”. The production staff was well-satisfied with his work on the episode, and he was hired to direct other episodes of the second and third seasons. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 208)
However, Senensky was fired by producer Fred Freiberger midway through shooting “The Tholian Web” (because he went over schedule), and although almost all of the footage he shot remained in the episode, he was not credited. (The Star Trek Interview Book)
In addition to Star Trek: The Original Series, he worked on dramas such as Dr. Kildare, Route 66 (including “In the Closing of a Trunk”, featuring Jon Lormer and Guy Raymond), Naked City (including “Alive and Still a Second Lieutenant”, written by Shimon Wincelberg and “Color Schemes Like Never Before”, featuring Lou Antonio, also the series featured Lawrence Dobkin as narrator and Andrew Laszlo as co-cinematographer), Arrest and Trial (starring Roger Perry), The Fugitive (including “When the Bough Breaks”, featuring Jud Taylor, “An Apple a Day”, featuring Kim Darby and “When the Wind Blows”, featuring Harry Townes), The F.B.I. (starring Stephen Brooks, including “The Plunderers”, featuring Bill Erwin, “The Escape”, feautring Steve Ihnat and Paul Comi, “The Assassin”, featuring William Windom, Ted Knight and James B. Sikking, “Anatomy of a Prison Break”, featuring George Murdock, Vic Perrin and Paul Winfield, “The Death Wind”, featuring Peter Mark Richman, Bill Quinn and Garrison True, “The Raid”, featuring Seymour Cassel, Ken Lynch, Dallas Mitchell and Rudy Solari, “The Courier”, featuring Keye Luke and Gene Lyons, “Game of Terror”, featuring James B. Sikking, “End of a Hero”, featuring Lee Meriwether, “A Second Life”, featuring George Sawaya and “Arrangement with Terror”, feautring Roger Perry), Kraft Suspense Theatre (including “The Easter Breach”, starring Richard Beymer), 12 O’Clock High (starring Frank Overton and Robert Lansing, including “To Heine – With Love”, featuring Stewart Moss and “The Trap”, featuring David Frankham), The Wild, Wild West (produced by Gene L. Coon), Mannix, Ironside, I, Spy (“This Guy Smith”, featuring Diana Muldaur), Mission: Impossible (“The Train”, featuring William Windom and William Schallert), Night Gallery (including “The Ghost of Sorworth Place”, featuring Jill Ireland and Richard Kiley), Planet of the Apes (“The Tyrant”, featuring Mark Lenard, Percy Rodrigues, Joseph Ruskin, Gary Combs, Tom Troupe and cinematography by Jerry Finnerman), The Waltons (including “The Chicken Thief”, featuring John Crawford and Meg Wyllie, “The Conflict”, featuring Bill Irwin, Bill Quinn, Morgan Woodward and Paul Fix, and “The Warrior”, also with John Crawford), Barnaby Jones (starring Lee Meriwether and theme music by Jerry Goldsmith, including “Murder Once Removed”, featuring Bill Quinn, “To Denise, with Love and Murder”, featuring Vince Howard), Casablanca (starring David Soul) and Paper Dolls (starring Richard Beymer, Jonathan Frakes and Terry Farrell), and comedies such as The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (produced by and co-starring James Komack, including “Gentleman Friend” with George Takei and “The Promise” with Meg Wyllie), The Partridge Family and Eight is Enough, as well as many other television series.
His 1974 TV-movie The Family Kovack (written by Adrian Spies) starred James Sloyan and Andrew Robinson and featured Peter Brocco. Seven years later he worked with Andrew Robinson again in the failed television pilot Big Bend Country, which also featured Anne Haney.
In 1970 Senensky co-directed Double Jeopardy, the TV-movie pilot for the series Dan August, featuring Susan Oliver, Jerry Ayres, Ned Romero and Fritz Weaver. His only feature film credit, Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978, finished by Richard C. Bennett after Senensky was fired from the project) starred Ronny Cox and featured Clint Howard. Senensky also directed the pilot episode (“Oil”) of Dynasty, which featured Peter Mark Richman, Lee Bergere, Jerry Ayres, Ellen Geer, Julie Parrish and Paul Sorensen.
In the mid-1980s, he briefly returned to the theater, where he directed the plays You Can’t Take it With You and Watch on the Rhine. Currently, Senensky resides in Carmel-by-the-sea, California, enjoying retirement and writing his blog.
In 2013, Senensky directed his first film project in more than two decades, an independent production titled The Right Regrets.
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