David Pressman

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his over three-hour Archive interview, David Pressman (1913-2011) recounts his arrival in the U.S. from Russia in 1922 and his early interest in acting. He talks about acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in the 1930s and his entrance into WWII in the early 1940s (he describes returning home from the war, and what it was like to see the Statue of Liberty from a porthole on his ship.) He discusses the Actors Studio that was created in 1947, which he described as a gym for actors, and details the live prestige ABC television drama series Actors Studio featuring emerging talent at the time. He recalls appearing as an actor in the very first production of Actors Studio and then becoming one of the series' primary directors. Pressman discusses the process by which the productions were staged and directed for television, lists the writers, performers, and other talent who worked on the show, and tells how the series struggled for sponsorship. He outlines the excitement of working in live television and talks about other anthology series he directed. He then chronicles his struggle to work as a director in television under the shadow of the Hollywood Blacklist. He explains how he ultimately switched careers to teaching until the end of the Blacklist, and eventually returned to television, notably as an Emmy Award-winning director of the daytime serial One Life to Live. B-roll consists of photos of Esso Repertory Theater, Prudential's On Stage, the CBS control room during a production of The Play's the Thing, and Pressman's appearance as an actor in a small role on One Life to Live. Pressman also shows off his daytime Emmy Awards and talked about receiving them. Karen Herman conducted the interview on July 27, 2004 in New York, New York.

"An unprepared director who comes to rehearsal not fully prepared is a disaster. Don't depend on improvisation.... Like a conductor of an orchestra, you have to know your instruments and how they work and what can they do. Otherwise, the musicians will find you out. And so will the actors."

Highlights
David Pressman on studying acting with Sanford Meisner 
09:44
David Pressman on his first television job (and his first use of videotape) after being blacklisted: directing Esso Repertory Theatre  for David Susskind
02:11
David Pressman on directing One Life to Live  
10:02
David Pressman on the Hollywood Blacklist happening again
01:12
David Pressman on how being blacklisted affected him
04:47
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on getting into acting; on his schooling
14:11
On learning acting from Sanford Meisner; on his early acting career
09:44

Chapter 2

On his service in World War II; on his time in the Actors Studio; on acting in the NBC series Actors Studio
13:59
On acting and staging for live television; on early television's relationship to live theater
15:24

Chapter 3

On casting and directing Actors Studio; on various actors who appeared on Actors Studio; on learning to be a television director
13:50
On the cancellation of the series The Play's the Thing; on directing Cosmopolitan Theater and Prudential Family Playhouse; on directing Treasury Men in Action and being blacklisted
15:26

Chapter 4

On what he did while he was blacklisted; on his first television job after the Blacklist; on Elia Kazan and the Hollywood Blacklist
13:32
On directing Phillip Morris Playhouse; on directing The Nurses; on directing The Defenders, NYPD and Another World
13:46

Chapter 5

On directing Another World; on directing One Life to Live
14:48
On the producers of One Life to Live; on how technology changed the production of One Life to Live over the years; on the storylines of the show
13:07

Chapter 6

On his acting role on One Life to Live; on the audience for One Life to Live; on the casting of the show
09:48
On the actors of One Life to Live
11:39
On the guest stars of One Life to Live; on leaving One Life to Live; on directing Loving
07:10

Chapter 7

On working with his camera crew and editing; on career achievements and regrets and how he'd like to be remembered
12:14
On B-Roll pictures from his career - Esso Repertory Theater; Esso Repertory Theater's production of "The Dumb Waiter"; The Prudential Family Playhouse production of "This Town Will Never Be the Same Again" with E.G. Marshall; E sso Repertory Theater with Donald Moffit and David Susskind; in the control room at CBS with Donald Davis; as "Bernie", his character on One Life to Live with Robert Woods; with his son Michael Pressman; his collection of Emmy Awards
10:15
Shows

Actors Studio

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David Pressman on acting in the early NBC series Actors Studio
04:31
David Pressman on acting and staging for live television
06:26
David Pressman on the people involved in creating the series Actors Studio and its relationship with the real Actors Studio
04:35
David Pressman on casting and directing Actors Studio
04:12
David Pressman on the change of Actors Studio to The Play's the Thing on CBS and comparing the rules for directors on ABC vs. NBC vs. CBS
03:39

Another World

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David Pressman on directing Another World live-on-tape
00:38
David Pressman on directing Another World 
05:18

Cosmopolitan Theater

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David Pressman on directing Cosmopolitan Theater
02:28

Defenders, The

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David Pressman on directing one episode of The Defenders
01:55

Esso Repertory Theatre

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David Pressman on his first television job (and his first use of videotape) after being blacklisted: directing Esso Repertory Theatre for David Susskind
02:11

Loving

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David Pressman on directing Loving
00:50

N.Y.P.D.

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David Pressman on directing NYPD
01:41

Nurses, The

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David Pressman on directing the soap opera The Nurses
01:51

One Life to Live

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David Pressman on directing One Life to Live  
10:02
Director David Pressman on the production details and producers of One Life to Live  
03:15
David Pressman on the writing on One Life to Live  and how technology has changed the production process
02:10
Director David Pressman on some of the social issues covered on One Live to Live
03:22
David Pressman on storylines of One Life to Live  
01:08
David Pressman on acting on One Life to Live
02:39
David Pressman on the audience of One Life to Live
01:35
David Pressman on the casting of One Life to Live
05:35
David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live
11:39
David Pressman on the guest stars of One Life to Live
02:00
David Pressman on leaving One Life to Live
01:23
David Pressman on preparing to shoot a soap opera
02:13
David Pressman on communicating with his camera crew
02:34
David Pressman on editing One Life to Live
01:24
David Pressman on his proudest career achievements
01:59

Philip Morris Playhouse, The

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David Pressman on directing The Philip Morris Playhouse while he was blacklisted
06:27

Prudential Family Playhouse

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David Pressman on directing Prudential Family Playhouse
02:08

Treasury Men in Action

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David Pressman on directing Treasury Men in Action
03:34
David Pressman on learning he was blacklisted and on being fired from Treasury Men in Action
05:03
Topics

Anthology Drama

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David Pressman on early television's relationship to theater
04:23

Health and Medicine

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Director David Pressman on some of the social issues covered on One Live to Live
03:22

Hollywood Blacklist

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David Pressman on learning his was blacklisted and being fired from Treasury Men in Action
05:02
David Pressman on being blacklisted; on teaching at Boston University from 1954-1959 during his unemployment; on then running the Neighborhood Playhouse; on the end of the blacklist; on trying to get jobs in television during the blacklist period; on David Susskind hiring him for television
08:53
David Pressman on how being blacklisted affected him
04:47
David Pressman on "secretly" directing The Philip Morris Playhouse while he was blacklisted
06:27
David Pressman on the Hollywood Blacklist happening again
01:12

Industry Crossroads

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David Pressman on learning his was blacklisted and being fired from Treasury Men in Action
05:02
David Pressman on being blacklisted; on teaching at Boston University from 1954-1959 during his unemployment; on then running the Neighborhood Playhouse; on the end of the blacklist; on trying to get jobs in television during the blacklist period; on David Susskind hiring him for television
08:53
David Pressman on how being blacklisted affected him
04:47
David Pressman on "secretly" directing The Philip Morris Playhouse  while he was blacklisted
06:27
David Pressman on the Hollywood Blacklist happening again
01:12

Minorities

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Director David Pressman on some of the social issues covered on One Live to Live
03:22

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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David Pressman on early television's relationship to theater
04:23

Technological Innovation

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David Pressman on his first television job (and his first use of videotape) after being blacklisted: directing Esso Repertory Theatre for David Susskind
00:20
David Pressman on the writing on One Life to Live  and how technology has changed the production process
02:10

Television Industry

View Topic
David Pressman on learning his was blacklisted and being fired from Treasury Men in Action
05:02
David Pressman on being blacklisted; on teaching at Boston University from 1954-1959 during his unemployment; on then running the Neighborhood Playhouse; on the end of the blacklist; on trying to get jobs in television during the blacklist period; on David Susskind hiring him for television
08:53
David Pressman on how being blacklisted affected him
04:47
David Pressman on "secretly" directing The Philip Morris Playhouse  while he was blacklisted
06:27
David Pressman on the Hollywood Blacklist happening again
01:12

World War II

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David Pressman on his service in World War II
05:56
Professions

Directors

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David Pressman on acting and staging for live television
06:26
David Pressman on the change of Actors Studio to The Play's the Thing on CBS and comparing the rules for directors on ABC vs. NBC vs. CBS
03:29
David Pressman on a director's relationship with producers
03:17
David Pressman on advice to an aspiring director
05:15
David Pressman on communicating with his camera crew
02:34
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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David Pressman on casting and directing Actors Studio and The Play's the Thing
11:21
David Pressman on his first television job (and his first use of videotape) after being blacklisted: directing Esso Repertory Theatre  for David Susskind
02:11
David Pressman on "secretly" directing The Philip Morris Playhouse  while he was blacklisted
06:27

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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David Pressman on directing Another World 
05:18
David Pressman on directing One Life to Live
22:36
David Pressman on directing One Life to Live
24:51

Legal Dramas

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David Pressman on directing one episode of The Defenders
01:55
People

Jocelyn Brando

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David Pressman on casting and directing Actors Studio
04:13

Phil Carey

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David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Phil Carey 
11:39

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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David Pressman on the guest stars of One Life to Live: Sammy Davis, Jr.
02:00

Laurence Fishburne

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David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Laurence Fishburne 
11:39

Lee Grant

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David Pressman on casting and directing Actors Studio
04:12

Ellen Holly

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David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Ellen Holly 
11:39

Kim Hunter

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David Pressman on casting and directing Actors Studio
04:12

Elia Kazan

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David Pressman on Elia Kazan's rationalization for naming names during the Blacklist era
03:36

Grace Kelly

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David Pressman on working with Grace Kelly and other actors
03:30

Judith Light

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David Pressman on storylines of One Life to Live
01:08
David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Judith Light 
11:39

E. G. Marshall

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David Pressman on casting and directing Actors Studio
04:12

Agnes Nixon

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David Pressman on working with One Life to Live creator Agnes Nixon 
01:03

Irna Phillips

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David Pressman on Irna Phillips
01:39

Nat Polen

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David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Nat Polen 
11:39

Doris Quinlan

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Director David Pressman on the production details and producers of One Life to Live  
03:10

Little Richard

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David Pressman on the guest stars of One Life to Live: Little Richard  
02:00

Clint Ritchie

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David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Clint Ritchie  
11:39

Jason Robards, Jr.

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David Pressman on his proudest career achievements
01:59

Erika Slezak

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David Pressman on directing Erika Slezak on One Life to Live
01:57
David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Erika Slezak 
11:39

Rod Steiger

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David Pressman on casting and directing Actors Studio
04:12

Robin Strasser

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David Pressman on the actors of One Life to Live: Robin Strasser 
11:39

David Susskind

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David Pressman on his first television job (and his first use of videotape) after being blacklisted: directing Esso Repertory Theatre for David Susskind
02:11

Ruth Westheimer

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David Pressman on the guest stars of One Life to Live: Dr. Ruth 
02:00

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