Ted Kotcheff

Ted Kotcheff
Born William Theodore Kotcheff
(1931-04-07) April 7, 1931
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Residence Beverly Hills, California, United States
Other names William Kotchff, William T. Kotcheff
Occupation Director, producer
Years active 1956–present
Spouse(s) Laifun Chung (?–present; 2 children)
Sylvia Kay (1960–1972; divorced; 3 children)

William Theodore "Ted" Kotcheff (born April 7, 1931; as Velichko Todorov Tsochev) is a Bulgarian-Canadian film and television director and producer,[1] known primarily for his work on several high-profile British and American television productions such as Armchair Theatre and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He has also directed numerous successful films including the seminal Australian classic Wake in Fright, action films such as First Blood and Uncommon Valor, and comedies like Weekend at Bernie's, Fun with Dick and Jane, and North Dallas Forty. He is sometimes credited as William T. Kotcheff, and currently resides in Beverly Hills, California.

Early life

Kotcheff was born as Velichko Todoroff Tsotcheff[2] in Toronto.[3] His parents were Bulgarian immigrants.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] 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 before in 1958 leaving 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 local 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. More successfully, Kotcheff also directed the following year's No Trams to Lime Street by Welsh playwright Alun Owen.

Kotcheff also worked in the theatre, and in 1962 made his first feature film, Tiara Tahiti. He went on to direct other features during the decade, including Life at the Top (1965) and Two Gentlemen Sharing (1969).

In 1971, he directed the classic Australian film Wake in Fright (originally released in the USA in 1971 as "Outback", but re-released in 2012 with its original title[13]). 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.) Also in 1971, Kotcheff returned to television, directing the Play for Today production Edna, the Inebriate Woman 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.

In 1972, he returned home to Canada, where he directed several films including adaptations of his friend and one-time housemate Mordecai Richler's novels The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Joshua Then and Now. The former film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival[14] making it the first Canadian film to win an international award. He directed many other films throughout the 1970s and 80s, most in the United States, with perhaps the best-known being the Sylvester Stallone feature First Blood in 1982. They would range from comedies (Fun with Dick and Jane) to dramas (Winter People).

In the 1990s, he returned to directing for TV, working on various American series such as Red Shoe Diaries and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where he acts as co-Executive Producer.

Personal life

Kotcheff now lives in Beverly Hills with his wife Laifun and two children Alexandra and Thomas. He has three children from a previous marriage to the actress Sylvia Kay: Aaron, Katrina and Joshua.

In May and June 2013 he was invited to the Film Forum in New York City for a re-release of his film The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, restored by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

In February 2016, Kotcheff has acquired Bulgarian citizenship in Bulgarian Consulate in Los Angeles,[15][16] and during his visit in Bulgaria in March, he was granted one.[17] 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.[18]


Director (Film)
Director (Television)


  1. Making It Like a Man: Canadian Masculinities in Practice, Editor Christine Ramsay, Publisher Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 2012, ISBN 1554582792, Fathers and Mothers chapter.
  2. Capital.bg. "20 въпроса: Тед Кочев". Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  3. "Ted Kotcheff Biography (1931-)". www.filmreference.com. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  4. Slaviani, Tom 24, Slavianski komitet v Bŭlgaria, Komitet za bŭlgarite v chuzb̈ina, 1968, str. 87.
  5. 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.
  6. The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World, pp. 85-89, by Loring M. Danforth: "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".
  7. "The apprenticeship of Ted Kotcheff | Toronto Star". thestar.com. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  8. "Duddy and Me | By Alec Scott | Summer 2016 | University of Toronto Magazine". www.magazine.utoronto.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  9. Richmond, Yale (1995-01-01). From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans. Intercultural Press. ISBN 9781877864308.
  10. Leyda, Jay (1977-01-01). Voices of film experience: 1894 to the present. Macmillan.
  11. Brown, Gene (1984-01-01). The New York Times encyclopedia of film. Times Books. ISBN 9780812910599.
  12. Duddy and Me ()They were both immigrants from Bulgaria, she was of Macedonian descent
  13. Hartl, John (October 25, 2012). "'Wake in Fright': Restored outback drama hasn't lost chilling effect". The Seattle Times.
  14. 1 2 "Berlinale 1974: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  15. В-к "Труд", 11.02.2016 г. Режисьорът на "Рамбо" Тед Кочев иска българско гражданство.
  16. "Hollywood legend applies for Bulgarian citizenship". www.europost.bg. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  17. US Director Ted Kotcheff Granted Bulgarian Citizenship, Sofia News Agency, March 19, 2016.
  18. Режисьорът Тед Кочев: България и Македония са едно. Вестник Труд, 16.03.2016 г.
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