Hal Cooper

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his five-hour Archive interview, Hal Cooper (1923-2014) talks about breaking into TV at the DuMont network following his service in World War II. He discusses DuMont children's programs Television Baby Sitter and The Magic Cottage, and talks about his work directing 1950's soap operas, including Search for Tomorrow and Portia Faces Life. He details his work as an associate producer/director of Gilligan's Island and his long tenure on I Dream of Jeannie. Cooper also recounts his time directing Gidget, That Girl, Mayberry R.F.D., Death Valley Days, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father. He speaks extensively about the groundbreaking '70s sitcom Maude, on which he served as an executive producer and director. He also talks of directing '70s shows The Brady Bunch, Free Country, and The Odd Couple. Cooper then discusses his later efforts on series Love, Sidney, Gimme a Break, and Dear John. Karen Herman conducted the interview on December 11, 2003 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"I finally got the call,'we're going on the air November 1st' (1948). I said, 'OK, when do we rehearse, when do we get on camera?' He said, 'we'll let you know.' As it turned out, we went on the air November 1st with two shows. We had never been on-camera. We had only entered and looked at the studio once, and we were on television. That could never happen in any day's world but then."

Highlights
Hal Cooper on his first television jobs directing Your School Reporter and Magic Cottage for DuMont
12:06
Hal Cooper on working with Sidney Sheldon on I Dream of Jeannie
02:21
Hal Cooper on acting with Milton Berle as a guest star on I Dream of Jeannie
02:14
Hal Cooper on how he viewed his work
01:12
Hal Cooper on advice for aspiring television directors
03:49
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early childhood and influences; on his time as a child performer and director on radio; on his service in Wold War II
16:21
On creating and directing the early series Your High School Reporter, TV Babysitter and Magic Cottage for the DuMont Network
12:06

Chapter 2

On creating and writing Magic Cottage; on working at the DuMont studio; on acting with Jack Palance on The Plainclothesman
14:03
On directing Search For Tomorrow; on directing Patty Duke and Mary Stuart on Search For Tomorrow
13:15

Chapter 3

On producing Portia Faces Life; on relocating from New York to Los Angeles; on playing a bailiff on various court shows; on directing the game show Your Surprise Package
15:47
On the Hollywood Blacklist; on being hired by Sheldon Leonard to direct The Dick Van Dyke Show
12:15

Chapter 4

On directing I Spy; on directing Death Valley Days
17:15
On casting and directing Gilligan's Island; on how he came to direct I Dream of Jeannie
10:53

Chapter 5

On working with Sidney Sheldon on I Dream of Jeannie; on directing the "magic" in I Dream of Jeannie; on the cast of the show; on censorship issues in his career
15:19
On various guest stars and the longevity of I Dream of Jeannie; on directing Hazel, Gidget, The Flying Nun, My World and Welcome To It and Insight

Chapter 6

On directing Insight; on directing That Girl
14:43
On directing Mayberry R.F.D.; on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father
13:14

Chapter 7

On directing The Brady Bunch; on directing The Odd Couple; on directing Love, American Style, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and All in the Family
15:54
On directing Maude; on the cast of Maude and the Maude spinoff Good Times
12:06

Chapter 8

On the cast of Maude; on the talent of Beatrice Arthur; on the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
17:42
On specific episodes of Maude
11:27

Chapter 9

On network interference on Maude; on becoming executive producer of the show and why it was cancelled; on directing Sanford and Son and One Day at a Time
15:31
On directing various other Norman Lear shows - A Year at the Top and The Nancy Walker Show; on directing Rob Reiner in Free Country; on directing Love, Sidney
11:25

Chapter 10

On directing Love, Sidney; on directing Gimme a Break!; on directing Empty Nest
16:20
On directing Dear John; on directing The Powers That Be; on directing Bob
12:48

Chapter 11

On his decision to retire; on advice for aspiring directors and the importance of rehearsing; on highlights and challenges in his career
16:09
On B-Roll photos from his career: with Marlo Thomas; with Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden; with Bill Bixby and Brandon Cruz; with the cast of Maude; with Helen Hays; with Sammy Davis, Jr.; on the set of The Brady Bunch; with partner Rod Parker
Shows

All in the Family

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Hal Cooper on directing two episodes of All in the Family;  on differing with director/producer John Rich
02:12

Bob

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Hal Cooper on directing Bob
08:12

Brady Bunch, The

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Hal Cooper on directing "Jan's Aunt Jenny" and "Law and Disorder" episodes of The Brady Bunch
03:15

Captain Video and His Video Rangers

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Hal Cooper on working in the DuMont studio
05:25

Clear Horizon, The

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Hal Cooper on censorship issues on I Dream of Jeannie and in his career
03:49

Courtship of Eddie's Father, The

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father
09:13

Dear John ...

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Hal Cooper on directing Dear John
01:33

Death Valley Days

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Hal Cooper on directing Death Valley Days
12:57
Hal Cooper on how he came to direct Death Valley Days
04:21
Hal Cooper on shooting Death Valley Days
04:44
Hal Cooper on directing Robert Taylor in Death Valley Days
03:03

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

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Hal Cooper on being hired by Sheldon Leonard to direct two episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show
04:38

Divorce Court

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Hal Cooper on playing a bailiff on Divorce Court and Juvenile Court
01:13

Empty Nest

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Hal Cooper on directing Empty Nest
02:33

Flying Nun, The

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun
02:48

For Better or Worse

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Hal Cooper on producing and directing For Better or Worse
03:47

Free Country

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Hal Cooper on directing Free Country
04:52

Gidget

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun
02:48

Gilligan's Island

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Hal Cooper on casting Gilligan's Island and directing two episodes
07:54

Gimme A Break!

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Hal Cooper on directing Gimme a Break!
07:10

Good Times

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Hal Cooper on the Maude spinoff Good Times
02:51

Hazel

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Hal Cooper on directing Hazel
01:04

I Dream of Jeannie

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Hal Cooper on how he came to direct I Dream of Jeannie
02:57
Hal Cooper on working with Sidney Sheldon on I Dream of Jeannie
02:21
Hal Cooper on directing the "magic" in I Dream of Jeannie
03:24
Hal Cooper on directing Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie
01:01
Hal Cooper on directing Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie
01:31
Hal Cooper on directing Bill Daily on I Dream of Jeannie
01:09
Hal Cooper on censorship issues on I Dream of Jeannie and in his career
03:49
Hal Cooper on directing Groucho Marx as a guest star on I Dream of Jeannie
01:26
Hal Cooper on the decision to have "Jeannie" and "Tony Nelson" get married on I Dream of Jeannie
01:09
Hal Cooper on the longevity of I Dream of Jeannie
00:55

I Spy

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Hal Cooper on directing an episode of I Spy
04:20

Insight

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Hal Cooper on directing Insight
01:12
Hal Cooper on directing Insight
03:26

Love, American Style

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Hal Cooper on directing episodes of Love, American Style (including one with Burgess Meredith); on his surprise that some of his work has continued to be memorable to others
02:38

Love, Sidney

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney
02:11
Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney
06:28

Magic Cottage

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Hal Cooper on his first television jobs creating and directing Your School Reporter, TV Babysitter, and Magic Cottage for DuMont
12:06
Hal Cooper on creating and writing Magic Cottage
05:08
Hal Cooper on working in the DuMont studio
05:25

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Hal Cooper on directing episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show including "The Good Time News"
01:36

Maude

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Hal Cooper on being hired to direct Maude; on the first episode he directed; on the creative atmosphere
04:29
Hal Cooper on the concept of the series and directing Maude;  on the Maude spinoff Good Times
07:49
Hal Cooper on directing Maude
29:09
Hal Cooper on Maude's funniest moment
03:47
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
06:56
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma, Part II"
03:18
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Life of the Party"
02:29
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Walter's Heart Attack"
04:21
Hal Cooper on network interference on Maude
02:07
Hal Cooper on becoming an executive producer on Maude
05:00
Hal Cooper on why Maude was cancelled
02:13

Mayberry R.F.D.

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Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.
04:01

My World ... and Welcome to it

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Hal Cooper on directing My World and Welcome to It
00:43

Nancy Walker Show, The

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Hal Cooper on directing various other Norman Lear shows - A Year at the Top and The Nancy Walker Show
04:17

Odd Couple, The (1970-75)

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Hal Cooper on directing episodes of The Odd Couple;  on the show going from single-camera to multi-camera
04:25
Hal Cooper on working with Tony Randall on The Odd Couple
01:12

One Day at a Time (1975-84)

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Hal Cooper on directing the pilot for One Day at a Time
03:34

Plainclothesman, The

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Hal Cooper on almost getting killed by Jack Palance on The Plainclothesman
01:56

Portia Faces Life

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Hal Cooper on producing Portia Faces Life
01:18

Powers That Be, The

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Hal Cooper on directing The Powers That Be
03:12

Sanford and Son

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Hal Cooper on directing Sanford and Son
01:50

Search For Tomorrow

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Hal Cooper on how he came to direct Search For Tomorrow
03:52
Hal Cooper on a typical production week for Search For Tomorrow
04:20
Hal Cooper on working with Patty Duke on Search For Tomorrow
02:06
Hal Cooper on working with Mary Stuart on Search For Tomorrow
01:34
Hal Cooper on directing a scene from Search for Tomorrow
01:22

That Girl

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Hal Cooper on directing Marlo Thomas on That Girl
06:33
Hal Cooper on directing Ted Bessell on That Girl
00:35
Hal Cooper on directing the That Girl episode "This Little Piggy Had A Ball"
02:02

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Hal Cooper on Allan Sherman insisting Bill Cosby be a guest on The Tonight Show
02:00

Year at the Top, A

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Hal Cooper on directing various other Norman Lear shows - A Year at the Top and The Nancy Walker Show
04:17

Your School Reporter

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Hal Cooper on his first television jobs creating and directing Your School Reporter, TV Babysitter, and Magic Cottage for DuMont
12:06

Your Surprise Package

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Hal Cooper on directing Your Surprise Package for Allan Sherman
04:07
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Hal Cooper on censorship issues on I Dream of Jeannie and in his career
03:49

Characters & Catchphrases

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Hal Cooper on directing Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude
13:16

Comedy

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Hal Cooper on Maude's funniest moment
03:47

Diversity in Television

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney
06:28

Hollywood Blacklist

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Hal Cooper on the Hollywood Blacklist
06:53

LGBTQ

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney
06:28

Memorable Moments on Television

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Hal Cooper on Allan Sherman insisting Bill Cosby be a guest on the Tonight show
02:00
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma, Part II"
03:18

Pop Culture

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Hal Cooper on Maude's funniest moment
03:47
Hal Cooper on directing Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude
13:16

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

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Hal Cooper on his first television jobs creating and directing Your School Reporter, TV Babysitter, and The Magic Cottage for DuMont
12:06

Television Industry

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Hal Cooper on censorship issues on I Dream of Jeannie and in his career
03:49

We Considered

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Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma, Part II"
03:18

We Laughed

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Hal Cooper on Allan Sherman insisting Bill Cosby be a guest on the Tonight show
02:00
Professions

Directors

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Hal Cooper on a typical production week on Search For Tomorrow
04:20
Hal Cooper on working as a director in the DuMont studio
05:25
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
06:56
Hal Cooper on directing Bob
08:12
Hal Cooper on the importance of rehearsing 
02:54
Hal Cooper on advice for aspiring television directors
03:49
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Hal Cooper on being hired by Sheldon Leonard to direct two episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show
04:38
Hal Cooper on casting Gilligan's Island and directing two episodes
06:54
Hal Cooper on directing I Dream of Jeannie
22:53
Hal Cooper on directing That Girl
09:15
Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.
04:01
Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father
09:13
Hal Cooper on directing Maude
12:06
Hal Cooper on directing Maude
29:09
Hal Cooper on directing Maude (continued)
10:07

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Hal Cooper on directing Search For Tomorrow
11:52

Western Series

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Hal Cooper on directing Death Valley Days
12:57
People

John Amos

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Maude director Hal Cooper on the Maude spinoff Good Times
02:51

Beatrice Arthur

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Hal Cooper on directing Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude
13:16
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
06:56

Hermione Baddeley

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Hal Cooper on directing Hermione Baddeley as "Mrs. Naugatuck" on Maude
01:25

Adrienne Barbeau

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Hal Cooper on the concept of the series and directing Maude;  on the Maude spinoff Good Times
07:49

Ted Bergmann

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Hal Cooper on Allen B. Du Mont and Ted Bergmann
01:01

Milton Berle

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Hal Cooper on acting with Milton Berle as a guest star on I Dream of Jeannie
02:14

Ken Berry

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Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.
04:01

Ted Bessell

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Hal Cooper on directing Ted Bessell on That Girl
00:35

Bill Bixby

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father
09:13

Shirley Booth

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Hal Cooper on directing Hazel
01:04

Sid Caesar

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Hal Cooper on directing Sid Caesar as a guest star on That Girl
02:02

Nell Carter

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Hal Cooper on directing Gimme a Break!
07:10

Bill Cosby

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Hal Cooper on Allan Sherman insisting Bill Cosby be a guest on The Tonight Show
02:00

Brandon Cruz

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father
09:13

Bill Daily

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Hal Cooper on directing Bill Daily on I Dream of Jeannie
01:09

Bob Denver

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Hal Cooper on casting Gilligan's Island and directing two episodes
07:54

Patty Duke

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Hal Cooper on working with Patty Duke on Search For Tomorrow
02:06

Barbara Eden

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Hal Cooper on directing Barbara Eden on I Dream of Jeannie
01:01

Sally Field

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun
02:48

Jodie Foster

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Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.
04:01

Redd Foxx

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Hal Cooper on directing Sanford and Son
01:50

Lee Grant

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Hal Cooper on the Hollywood Blacklist
06:53

Larry Hagman

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Hal Cooper on directing Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie
01:31

Alan Hale, Jr.

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Hal Cooper on casting Gilligan's Island and directing two episodes
07:54

Helen Hayes

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sydney
02:11

Pert Kelton

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Hal Cooper on the Hollywood Blacklist
06:53

James Komack

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father
09:13

Norman Lear

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Hal Cooper on being hired to direct Maude; on the first episode he directed; on the creative atmosphere
04:29
Hal Cooper on Norman Lear's extraordinary ability to cast actors
01:18

Sheldon Leonard

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Hal Cooper on being hired by Sheldon Leonard to direct two episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show
04:38
Hal Cooper on directing an episode of I Spy
04:20

Tina Louise

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Hal Cooper on casting Gilligan's Island and directing two episodes
07:54

Bill Macy

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Hal Cooper on the concept of the series and directing Maude;  on the Maude spinoff Good Times
07:49

Garry Marshall

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Hal Cooper on directing episodes of The Odd Couple;  on the show going from single-camera to multi-camera
04:25

Groucho Marx

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Hal Cooper on directing Groucho Marx as a guest star on I Dream of Jeannie
01:26

Rue McClanahan

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Hal Cooper on directing Rue McClanahan as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
02:55

Pat Meikle

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Hal Cooper on his first television jobs creating and directing Your School Reporter, TV Babysitter, and The Magic Cottage for DuMont
12:06
Hal Cooper on creating and writing Magic Cottage
05:08

Allen B. Du Mont

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Hal Cooper on Allen B. Du Mont and Ted Bergmann
01:01

Bob Newhart

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Hal Cooper on directing Bob
08:12

Jack Palance

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Hal Cooper on almost getting killed by Jack Palance on The Plainclothesman
01:56

Tony Randall

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Hal Cooper on working with Tony Randall on The Odd Couple
01:02
Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sydney
02:11
Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney
06:28

Robert Reed

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Hal Cooper on directing "Jan's Aunt Jenny" and "Law and Disorder" episodes of The Brady Bunch
03:15

Rob Reiner

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Hal Cooper on directing Free Country
04:52

John Rich

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Hal Cooper on directing two episodes of All in the Family;  on differing with director/producer John Rich
02:12

Esther Rolle

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Maude director Hal Cooper on the Maude spinoff Good Times
02:51

Sherwood Schwartz

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Hal Cooper on casting Gilligan's Island and directing two episodes
07:54

Sidney Sheldon

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Hal Cooper on working with Sidney Sheldon on I Dream of Jeannie
02:21

Allan Sherman

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Hal Cooper on directing Your Surprise Package for Allan Sherman
04:07
Hal Cooper on Allan Sherman insisting Bill Cosby be a guest on The Tonight Show
02:00

O. J. Simpson

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun
02:48

Mary Stuart

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Hal Cooper on working with Mary Stuart on Search For Tomorrow
01:34

Robert Taylor

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Hal Cooper on directing Robert Taylor in Death Valley Days
03:03

Marlo Thomas

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Hal Cooper on directing Marlo Thomas on That Girl
06:33

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