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."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Hal Cooper on his first television jobs directing Your School Reporter and Magic Cottage for DuMont
Hal Cooper on working with Sidney Sheldon on I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on acting with Milton Berle as a guest star on I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on how he viewed his work
Hal Cooper on advice for aspiring television directors
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
On creating and directing the early series Your High School Reporter, TV Babysitter and Magic Cottage for the DuMont Network

Chapter 2

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

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
On the Hollywood Blacklist; on being hired by Sheldon Leonard to direct The Dick Van Dyke Show

Chapter 4

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

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
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
On directing Mayberry R.F.D.; on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father

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
On directing Maude; on the cast of Maude and the Maude spinoff Good Times

Chapter 8

On the cast of Maude; on the talent of Beatrice Arthur; on the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
On specific episodes of Maude

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
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

Chapter 10

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

Chapter 11

On his decision to retire; on advice for aspiring directors and the importance of rehearsing; on highlights and challenges in his career
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

Bob

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Hal Cooper on directing Bob

Brady Bunch, The

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

Captain Video and His Video Rangers

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Hal Cooper on working in the DuMont studio

Clear Horizon, The

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

Courtship of Eddie's Father, The

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Dear John ...

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Hal Cooper on directing Dear John

Death Valley Days

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Hal Cooper on directing Death Valley Days
Hal Cooper on how he came to direct Death Valley Days
Hal Cooper on shooting Death Valley Days
Hal Cooper on directing Robert Taylor in Death Valley Days

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

Divorce Court

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Hal Cooper on playing a bailiff on Divorce Court and Juvenile Court

Empty Nest

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Hal Cooper on directing Empty Nest

Flying Nun, The

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun

For Better or Worse

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Hal Cooper on producing and directing For Better or Worse

Free Country

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Hal Cooper on directing Free Country

Gidget

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun

Gilligan's Island

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

Gimme A Break!

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Hal Cooper on directing Gimme a Break!

Good Times

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Hal Cooper on the Maude spinoff Good Times

Hazel

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Hal Cooper on directing Hazel

I Dream of Jeannie

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Hal Cooper on how he came to direct I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on working with Sidney Sheldon on I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on directing the "magic" in I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on directing Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on directing Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on directing Bill Daily on I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on censorship issues on I Dream of Jeannie and in his career
Hal Cooper on directing Groucho Marx as a guest star on I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on the decision to have "Jeannie" and "Tony Nelson" get married on I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on the longevity of I Dream of Jeannie

I Spy

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Hal Cooper on directing an episode of I Spy

Insight

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Hal Cooper on directing Insight
Hal Cooper on directing Insight

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

Love, Sidney

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney
Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney

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
Hal Cooper on creating and writing Magic Cottage
Hal Cooper on working in the DuMont studio

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"

Maude

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Hal Cooper on being hired to direct Maude; on the first episode he directed; on the creative atmosphere
Hal Cooper on the concept of the series and directing Maude;  on the Maude spinoff Good Times
Hal Cooper on directing Maude
Hal Cooper on Maude's funniest moment
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma, Part II"
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Life of the Party"
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Walter's Heart Attack"
Hal Cooper on network interference on Maude
Hal Cooper on becoming an executive producer on Maude
Hal Cooper on why Maude was cancelled

Mayberry R.F.D.

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Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.

My World ... and Welcome to it

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Hal Cooper on directing My World and Welcome to It

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

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
Hal Cooper on working with Tony Randall on The Odd Couple

One Day at a Time (1975-84)

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

Plainclothesman, The

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Hal Cooper on almost getting killed by Jack Palance on The Plainclothesman

Portia Faces Life

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Hal Cooper on producing Portia Faces Life

Powers That Be, The

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Hal Cooper on directing The Powers That Be

Sanford and Son

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Hal Cooper on directing Sanford and Son

Search For Tomorrow

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Hal Cooper on how he came to direct Search For Tomorrow
Hal Cooper on a typical production week for Search For Tomorrow
Hal Cooper on working with Patty Duke on Search For Tomorrow
Hal Cooper on working with Mary Stuart on Search For Tomorrow
Hal Cooper on directing a scene from Search for Tomorrow

That Girl

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Hal Cooper on directing Marlo Thomas on That Girl
Hal Cooper on directing Ted Bessell on That Girl
Hal Cooper on directing the That Girl episode "This Little Piggy Had A Ball"

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

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

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

Your Surprise Package

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Hal Cooper on directing Your Surprise Package for Allan Sherman
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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

Characters & Catchphrases

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Hal Cooper on directing Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude

Comedy

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Hal Cooper on Maude's funniest moment

Diversity in Television

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney

Hollywood Blacklist

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Hal Cooper on the Hollywood Blacklist

LGBTQ

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney

Memorable Moments on Television

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

Pop Culture

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Hal Cooper on Maude's funniest moment
Hal Cooper on directing Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude

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

Television Industry

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

We Considered

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

We Laughed

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

Directors

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Hal Cooper on a typical production week on Search For Tomorrow
Hal Cooper on working as a director in the DuMont studio
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
Hal Cooper on directing Bob
Hal Cooper on the importance of rehearsing 
Hal Cooper on advice for aspiring television directors
Genres

Comedy Series

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Hal Cooper on being hired by Sheldon Leonard to direct two episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Hal Cooper on casting Gilligan's Island and directing two episodes
Hal Cooper on directing I Dream of Jeannie
Hal Cooper on directing That Girl
Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.
Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father
Hal Cooper on directing Maude
Hal Cooper on directing Maude
Hal Cooper on directing Maude (continued)

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Hal Cooper on directing Search For Tomorrow

Western Series

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Hal Cooper on directing Death Valley Days
People

John Amos

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Maude director Hal Cooper on the Maude spinoff Good Times

Beatrice Arthur

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Hal Cooper on directing Beatrice Arthur as "Maude Findlay" on Maude
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"

Hermione Baddeley

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

Adrienne Barbeau

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

Ted Bergmann

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Hal Cooper on Allen B. Du Mont and Ted Bergmann

Milton Berle

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

Ken Berry

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Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.

Ted Bessell

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Hal Cooper on directing Ted Bessell on That Girl

Bill Bixby

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Shirley Booth

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Hal Cooper on directing Hazel

Sid Caesar

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

Nell Carter

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Hal Cooper on directing Gimme a Break!

Bill Cosby

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

Brandon Cruz

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Bill Daily

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Hal Cooper on directing Bill Daily on I Dream of Jeannie

Bob Denver

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

Patty Duke

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Hal Cooper on working with Patty Duke on Search For Tomorrow

Barbara Eden

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Hal Cooper on directing Barbara Eden on I Dream of Jeannie

Sally Field

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun

Jodie Foster

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Hal Cooper on directing Mayberry R.F.D.

Redd Foxx

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Hal Cooper on directing Sanford and Son

Lee Grant

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Hal Cooper on the Hollywood Blacklist

Larry Hagman

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Hal Cooper on directing Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie

Alan Hale, Jr.

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

Helen Hayes

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Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sydney

Pert Kelton

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Hal Cooper on the Hollywood Blacklist

James Komack

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Hal Cooper on directing The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Norman Lear

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

Sheldon Leonard

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

Tina Louise

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

Bill Macy

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

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

Groucho Marx

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

Rue McClanahan

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Hal Cooper on directing Rue McClanahan as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude

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
Hal Cooper on creating and writing Magic Cottage

Allen B. Du Mont

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Hal Cooper on Allen B. Du Mont and Ted Bergmann

Bob Newhart

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Hal Cooper on directing Bob

Jack Palance

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Hal Cooper on almost getting killed by Jack Palance on The Plainclothesman

Tony Randall

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Hal Cooper on working with Tony Randall on The Odd Couple
Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sydney
Hal Cooper on directing Love, Sidney

Robert Reed

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

Rob Reiner

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Hal Cooper on directing Free Country

John Rich

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

Esther Rolle

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Maude director Hal Cooper on the Maude spinoff Good Times

Sherwood Schwartz

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

Sidney Sheldon

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Hal Cooper on working with Sidney Sheldon on I Dream of Jeannie

Allan Sherman

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Hal Cooper on directing Your Surprise Package for Allan Sherman
Hal Cooper on Allan Sherman insisting Bill Cosby be a guest on The Tonight Show

O. J. Simpson

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Hal Cooper on directing Gidget and The Flying Nun

Mary Stuart

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Hal Cooper on working with Mary Stuart on Search For Tomorrow

Robert Taylor

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Hal Cooper on directing Robert Taylor in Death Valley Days

Marlo Thomas

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Hal Cooper on directing Marlo Thomas on That Girl

All Interviews

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