Arthur Penn

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, Arthur Penn (1922-2010) discusses his early years, and his experience in World War II. He recalls his first television job as floor manager for The Colgate Comedy Hour where he learned how to direct for television. He details his association with producer Fred Coe, who hired him to direct episodes of Philco-Goodyear Playhouse. He chronicles directing several other classic anthology series, including Producer’s Showcase, Playhouse 90, and Playwrights '56. He recalls how his television directing work led to a career in feature films which included “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Miracle Worker,” and “Alice’s Restaurant.” Henry Colman conducted the interview on October 21, 1998 in New York, NY.

"None of us realized the potency yet of this medium -- how many homes it was going to, what kind of effect it was having on people and so forth.... I think everybody who works in the visual medium would love to have that kind of innocence again."

Highlights
Arthur Penn on being hired as a floor manager at NBC in New York, and on working on the The Colgate Comedy Hour
06:14
Arthur Penn on Playhouse 90's productions of "Dark Side of the Earth" with Van Heflin and "Portrait of a Murderer"
05:13
Arthur Penn on the Playwrights '56 episode "The Battler," which was to star James Dean
02:32
Arthur Penn on directing "Bonnie and Clyde"
03:44
Arthur Penn on directing the feature film version of "The Miracle Worker"
04:35
Arthur Penn on Fred Coe's approach to producing, and on Coe's strengths and weaknesses
03:54
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on favorite radio programs, and on how the Great Depression impacted his family; on attending the 1939 World's Fair
11:03
On his experiences during World War II, and on meeting Fred Coe and Lester Shorr; on putting on plays while touring around Europe during World War II
15:35

Chapter 2

On various people he met while attending college; on being hired as a floor manager at NBC in New York, and on working on The Colgate Comedy Hour; on learning about directing while he was the floor manager of The Colgate Comedy Hour, and on the production schedule for the show
14:17
On becoming associate director for The Colgate Comedy Hour, and on going to work for Fred Coe; on Fred Coe's approach to producing, and on Coe's strengths and weaknesses; on the challenges of directing Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
13:39

Chapter 3

On directing Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse from the control room and on the atmosphere on a live television show; on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Tad Mosel's "The Lawn Party"; on the writing process on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Fred Coe's involvement on the show
16:26
On how Producer's Showcase came about; on directing for Playhouse 90; on the potency of television at the time; on the Playwrights '56 episode "The Battler," which was to star James Dean
11:59

Chapter 4

On directing Playhouse 90; on bloopers on Playhouse 90; on Playhouse 90's productions of "Dark Side of the Earth" with Van Heflin and "Portrait of a Murderer"
10:07
On his various projects with Fred Coe, and on beginning to direct feature films; on his battles with studio executives; on directing the play "Two for the Seesaw"
10:25
On being an advisor to the John F. Kennedy campaign; on directing Tad Mosel's "All the Way Home"
07:28

Chapter 5

On directing the feature film version of "The Miracle Worker"; on directing "Bonnie and Clyde"; on directing Flesh and Blood
11:00
On directing the feature films "Alice's Restaurant" and "Little Big Man" and on then-current projects; on what represents the best of television; on advice he has given his son about directing
09:26
On the legacies of Fred Coe and Martin Manulis; on how directing live television prepared him to direct plays and feature films; on the then-future of television, and how he would like to be remembered; on various people he worked with in his career
08:06

Chapter 6

On various people with whom he worked in his career: Rod Serling, Ethel Winant, William Gibson, Marlon Brando, Fred Coe
09:13
Shows

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

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Arthur Penn on being hired as a floor manager at NBC in New York, and on working on The Colgate Comedy Hour
06:14
Arthur Penn on learning about directing while he was the floor manager of The Colgate Comedy Hour, and on the production schedule for the show
02:55
Arthur Penn on becoming associate director for The Colgate Comedy Hour, and on going to work for Fred Coe
05:46

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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Arthur Penn on the challenges of directing Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
03:59
Arthur Penn on directing Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse from the control room and on the atmosphere on a live television show
06:15
Arthur Penn on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Tad Mosel's "The Lawn Party"
06:09
Arthur Penn on the writing process on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Fred Coe's involvement on the show
04:02

Playhouse 90

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Arthur Penn on directing for Playhouse 90; the potency of television at the time
02:42
Arthur Penn on directing Playhouse 90
02:54
Arthur Penn on bloopers on Playhouse 90
02:00
Arthur Penn on Playhouse 90's productions of "Dark Side of the Earth" with Van Heflin and "Portrait of a Murderer"
05:13

Playwrights '56

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Arthur Penn on the Playwrights '56 episode "The Battler," which was to star James Dean
02:31

Producers' Showcase

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Arthur Penn on how Producer's Showcase came about
06:46
Topics

1939-40 World's Fair

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Arthur Penn on attending the 1939 World's Fair
00:37

Advice

View Topic
Arthur Penn on advice he has given his son about directing
01:48

Bloopers

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Arthur Penn on bloopers on Playhouse 90
02:00

Historic Events and Social Change

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Arthur Penn on attending the 1939 World's Fair
00:37
Arthur Penn on his experience with World War II, and on meeting Fred Coe and Lester Shorr
09:20
Arthur Penn on putting on plays while touring around Europe during World War II
06:16

John F. Kennedy

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Arthur Penn on being an advisor to the John F. Kennedy campaign
06:00

Kennedy-Nixon Debates

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Arthur Penn on being an advisor to the John F. Kennedy campaign
06:00

Richard M. Nixon

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Arthur Penn on being an advisor to the John F. Kennedy campaign
06:01

Technological Innovation

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Arthur Penn on the coaxial cable which connected the two coasts

Television Industry

View Topic
Arthur Penn on what represents the best of television
01:12
Arthur Penn on advice he has given his son about directing
01:48
Arthur Penn on the then-future of television, and how he'd like to be remembered
02:08

War

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Arthur Penn on his experience with World War II, and on meeting Fred Coe and Lester Shorr
09:20
Arthur Penn on putting on plays while touring around Europe during World War II
06:16

World War II

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Arthur Penn on his experience with World War II, and on meeting Fred Coe and Lester Shorr
09:20
Arthur Penn on putting on plays while touring around Europe during World War II
06:16
Professions

Directors

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Arthur Penn on how directing live television prepared him to direct plays and feature films
02:04
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Arthur Penn on directing Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
03:59
Arthur Penn on directing Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
16:26
Arthur Penn on directing for Playhouse 90
02:42
Arthur Penn on the Playwrights '56 episode "The Battler," which was to star James Dean
02:31
Arthur Penn on directing Playhouse 90
10:07

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Arthur Penn on working on The Colgate Comedy Hour
14:55
People

Warren Beatty

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Arthur Penn on directing "Bonnie and Clyde" with Warren Beatty, and on how his television direction impacted his style
03:44

Marlon Brando

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On various people with whom he worked in his career: Marlon Brando
01:04

Fred Coe

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Arthur Penn on meeting Fred Coe during World War II
04:36
Arthur Penn on Fred Coe's approach to producing, and on Coe's strengths and weaknesses
03:54
Arthur Penn on the writing process on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Fred Coe's involvement on the show
04:02
Arthur Penn on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. When asked by a Kennedy friend his advice on shooting the televised debate, he and Fred Coe made the suggestion "close-ups"
06:00
Arthur Penn on his various projects with Fred Coe, and on getting involved in directing feature films
03:59
Arthur Penn on the legacies of Fred Coe and Martin Manulis
02:02
On various people with whom he worked in his career: Fred Coe
03:17

James Dean

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Arthur Penn on the Playwrights '56 episode "The Battler" which was to star James Dean
02:32

Angie Dickinson

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On various people with whom he worked in his career: Angie Dickinson
00:29

Patty Duke

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Arthur Penn on various people with whom he worked in his career: Patty Duke
00:10

George Roy Hill

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On various people with whom he worked in his career: George Roy Hill
00:26

Martin Manulis

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Arthur Penn on the legacies of Fred Coe and Martin Manulis
02:00

E. G. Marshall

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Arthur Penn on various people with whom he worked in his career: E.G. Marshall
00:27

Tad Mosel

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Arthur Penn on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse's production of Tad Mosel's "The Lawn Party"
06:09
Arthur Penn on directing Tad Mosel's play "All the Way Home"
01:29
Arthur Penn on various people with whom he worked in his career: Tad Mosel
00:17

Paul Newman

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Arthur Penn on various people with whom he worked in his career: Paul Newman
00:27

Rod Serling

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On various people with whom he worked in his career: Rod Serling
00:35

Gore Vidal

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On various people with whom he worked in his career: Gore Vidal
00:33

Ethel Winant

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On various people with whom he worked in his career: Ethel Winant
00:25

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