Born on February 22, 1926 in Washington, Pennsylvania, USA, he held a degree in engineering from Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was already an established producer/director on television, specializing in variety shows featuring Martin and Lewis, Abbott and Costello, and George Gobel.
He formed a partnership with producer Norman Lear in 1959, which yielded several Yorkin-directed films including Come Blow Your Horn (1965), Divorce American Style (1967), Inspector Clouseau (1968 – starring Alan Arkin), and Start the Revolution Without Me (1970).
In the early ’70s, Yorkin and Lear created all in the Family, a groundbreaking topical situation comedy that completely redefined television comedy with its relatively realistic scripts and subject matter, for which Yorkin was executive producer.
Yorkin’s other films as director included 1967 satire “Divorce American Style” with Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds and 1970 historical spoof ” Start the Revolution Without Me,” starring Gene Wilder, Donald Sutherland and Orson Welles.
Yorkin was also executive producer of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” and was involved in the sequel which is in the works.
It was Yorkin who first discovered the British comedy series “Till Death Do Us Part,” bringing it to the U.S. with Lear to create “All in the Family” for ABC, which passed on the initial pilot.
After it was recast with Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers, Yorkin directed the pilot and sold it to CBS.
The sitcom became one of the most influential TV series of all time, and one of the first to feature characters from diverse backgrounds and controversial political, sexual and cultural topics.
After ending his partnership with Lear, Yorkin teamed with Saul Turteltaub and Bernie Orenstein to create Toy Productions, which produced “What’s Happening,” a teen comedy set in Watts; and “Carter Country,” a fish-out-of-water comedy starring Victor French and Kene Holliday as small-town cops.
In 1979, Toy Productions was acquired by Columbia Pictures, the same studio that would acquire Lear’s Embassy Communications in 1985.
In the early years of their association, Mr. Yorkin directed several notable movies: “Come Blow Your Horn” (screenplay by Mr. Lear) in 1963, with Frank Sinatra, based on Neil Simon’s play about a swinging bachelor; “Never Too Late” (produced by Mr. Lear) in 1965, with Maureen O’Sullivan as the pregnant mother of grown children; “Divorce American Style” (screenplay by Mr. Lear) in 1967, with Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds; and the cult spoof “Start the Revolution Without Me” in 1970 (Mr. Lear, executive producer), starring Gene Wilder, Donald Sutherland and Orson Welles.
Mr. Yorkin and his first wife, Peg, divorced in 1984. He is survived by his second wife, the actress Cynthia Sikes Yorkin; two children from his first marriage, David and Nicole Yorkin; two from his second, Michael and Jessica Yorkin; two sisters, Ruth Drazen and Martha Berman; and four grandchildren.
He was an executive producer of the 1982 film “Blade Runner” and directed the 1985 film “Twice in a Lifetime,” with Gene Hackman, Ann-Margret and Ellen Burstyn.