Obituary: Ted Steeg

steeg SQFilmmaker Ted Steeg, Woodstock resident since 1978, died on July 7 at Beth Israel medical center in New York City. Mr. Steeg was 84.

First visiting Woodstock in 1968, Ted “fell in love with the place” reported his daughter Amy, herself a graduate of Onteora high school. Their first home was on Glasco Turnpike, and among their first local friends were noted long time Woodstockers Linda and Kevin Sweeney, Nancy and Bob Haney, Grace and Jerry Wapner, Sarah and Norm Cohen and David Ballantine. That circle later expanded to include Karen and Les Walker, Linda and Don Gregorius, Molly and John Kilb, Burrill Crohn and many many others.

An ardent sportsman, Ted could often be found on Sundays in the 70s, 80s and 90s at Andy Lee field. There, along with other photo weekend jocks” he participated in numerable contest of tennis, basketball, touch football and softball. So many guys showed up for the softball games that eventually a league was formed, and the team for which to Ted pitched, the redoubtable Woodstock Whippets, was several times champions.


When not in Woodstock, Ted was in Manhattan running his company, Ted Steeg Productions, or on the road somewhere in the world shooting some of his more than 200 films and videos. Perhaps his best-known work was the award-winning orientation video Your Turn, which is mandatory viewing for everyone serving jury duty in the state of New York. Hired by the New York office of Court administration, Ted followed up the petit jury video with the second orientation video, Protect and Uphold, which is shown to grand juries throughout the state.  Because of these two videos, wrote Time Out magazine, Mr. Steeg “might be the most watched filmmaker in New York”.

A native of Indiana, Ted migrated to New York City following service in the Korean War to attend Columbia University graduate school. After a stint with Max Liebman and the 19 55-56 NBC TV “color spectaculars” of the time, he joined the political campaign of 1956 to make films and write speeches which helped to elect Foster Furcolo as Governor of Massachusetts.

Returning to New York, he founded his production company in 1968, and began creating films and documentaries for industry and education. Clients included IBM, Xerox, McGraw-Hill, Time-Life, International Paper, AT&T, Kodak, United Technologies, Citicorp, Newsweek, the French Government Tourist Office, the Citizens’ Committee for a Better New York, and the U.S. State Department. His documentaries on modern dance (Paul Taylor: An Artist and his World); agrarian reform (Juan); and New York block associations (Block by Block) all won multiple awards.

In the 1990s, Ted (a lifelong liberal) was hired to write all the texts for the exhibits at that George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at the Corpus Christi, Texas, and also to co-produce the many films and videos on display in the sprawling complex.

In 2002, he helped produce and appeared in New York in the Fifties, a documentary based on the Dan Wakefield book of the same name. He also had a brief cameo in the feature film Going All The Way, a coming-of-age story created by Mr. Wakefield in which Ben Affleck played Gunner, a character-based on Ted as a young man in Indiana.

Survivors include daughter Amy, son-in-law Peter, two grandchildren Brooke and Liam, Amy’s mother Diana Jackson and nieces and nephews. After cremation, Mr. Steeg’s ashes will be interred in the family plot in Indianapolis.

There are no services planned at this time.

There are 3 comments

  1. Marc Wallace

    Had to write and reminisce and honor the memory of the dynamic, irrepressible Ted Steeg. I also fell in love with Woodstock, back in 1972, and found a country cabin nearby where I spent one summer, and met Ted playing softball right on Andy Lee Field. Through this connection –playing 3rd base in one game–I ended up getting my very first job in New York–with Ted’s film production company on 56th St, off 6th Ave, and was launched on my 30-year career in TV in the city. Ted even fixed me up on a date, my first-ever blind date in NYC. Ted & that relationship formed on the playing fields of Woodstock ended up creating much of the foundation of my adult working life. Cheers to Ted, his family & friends & to all the memories from the haven in the Catskills we were lucky enough to have shared.

  2. Carolynn Jones

    Ted had the greatest influence on my life of anybody and am devastated to find him gone. Been meaning to get in touch with him for the past three years, but didn’t because I was a little afraid of him, as I was when he talked about marriage back in the fifties. I think I thought I didn’t deserve him. He is a lifelong love and really know he’s not too far away because I dream of him often. He got me to NYC and introduced me to my husband, Jere Jones. He called me Jonesy even before I married Jere because he once introduced me as Carolynn Jones to friends outside of Shortridge high School after a show at Caleb Mills Hall (my last name was Rose.) Since I didn’t correct him I became Jonsey and then I became a real “Jonesy” and lifelong friend.

  3. Nancy Steeg Vastola

    Not too long ago I received a call from a Mr. Burt Saltzman from Sonoma, Calif. Mr. Saltzman called me in hopes that I was the daughter of his friend Ted Steeg who he had lost track of. I am the daughter of Ted Steeg – but not Ted Steeg of Woodstock. I explained to him that my father was Ted Steeg of Buffalo, NY (1930-2002) (and my great grandfather was also Ted Steeg, as are my brother and my nephew!). I told him I knew of his friend Ted Steeg the film producer but only from internet ancestry research over the years. Mr. Slatzman was quite disappointed that I could not help him connect with his friend – perhaps he will see this notice or a family friend will and tell him of his friend’s passing. My sympathy to the family – certainly sounds like Ted Steeg of Woodstock was as much loved as Ted Steeg of Buffalo, NY. was.

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