Peter Werner, Oscar winner and director of 'Moonlighting,' 'Law & Order: SVU,' died at the age of 76

March 24, 2023

Peter Werner, who won an Academy Award for a short film in 1976 and went on to direct television shows such as "Moonlighting" and "Law & Order: SVU," died on Tuesday. He was 76, according to WFTV.

Werner died in Wilmington, North Carolina, from heart issues caused by a ruptured aorta, according to Deadline. In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, Werner's younger brother, Tom Werner, verified the cause of death.

“He had a torn aorta that the doctors weren’t able to repair,” Tom Werner wrote. “So sudden.”

According to Deadline, Peter Werner was born on January 17, 1947, in New York City, and graduated with master's degrees in education and documentary filmmaking. Werner was teaching in Vermont after co-founding a Quaker high school in Deerfield, Massachusetts, when he met Frances Flaherty, the widow of famous documentary director Robert Flaherty.

About the Actor's Career

According to Parade, this led to his 1976 short film "In the Zone of Ice," which was based on a short tale by Joyce Carol Oates. The film was screened at the New York Film Festival and garnered him an Academy Award for best live-action short, which he shared with Andre Guttfreund, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Peter Werner was nominated for four Emmy Awards: in 1986 for "Moonlighting," in 1987 for "LBJ: The Early Years," in 1995 for "Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story," and in 2006 for "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy." He was also nominated for three Directors Guild of America Awards and got a Peabody Award for "LBJ: The Early Years."

According to, Werner directed episodes of "The Wonder Years," "Nash Bridges," "Grounded for Life," "No Ordinary Family," "The Blacklist," "Bull," "Six," and "Law & Order: SVU."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Werner's television movie directing credits include "I Married a Centerfold" (1984), "Two Moms for Zachary" (1996), "Mama Flora's Family" (1997), "Tempting Destiny" (1998), and Call Me Santa (2001).

“I will deeply miss Peter’s wry sense of humor, and the goodness that filled his soul,” “Nash Bridges” creator Carlton Cuse said, according to Deadline. “He was a terrific director and an even better human being.”

Impact of Aortic Aneurysms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people in the United States die each year from aortic aneurysms. Aortic aneurysms are more common in men and in people over the age of 65.

Additionally, individuals who smoke, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of aortic aneurysms are at a higher risk of developing the condition. It is important for individuals to speak with their healthcare provider about screening options and preventative measures to reduce their risk of developing aortic aneurysms.

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