Jack Shea

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Jack Shea (1928-2013) recalls his early years in New York, working as a stage manager and assistant director at NBC. He talks about his move to NBC in Los Angeles, where he became began a director on Bob Hope's television specials, including his many programs overseas. He also discusses directing Jerry Lewis' specials for television. Shea describes his experiences as a director on several series, including The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Waltons, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons (on which he was also a producer), Good Times, The Ropers, Silver Spoons, and Designing Women. He then details his take on the craft of directing for television and outlines his many years of service in the Directors Guild of America, including his stint as President of the organization. Jennifer Howard conducted the interview on December 9, 2002 in Studio City, CA.

"It's very tough to get somebody to give you a job as a director because there's so much at stake. Everybody's afraid that if they pick you to be a director and the thing fails, they're going to take the rap for it."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Jack Shea on directing The Golden Girls and working with the ensemble of Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty
Jack Shea on "George Jefferson's" walk on The Jeffersons
Jack Shea on directing Leonardo DiCaprio on Growing Pains
Jack Shea on diversity within the DGA
Jack Shea on the most important role a director fulfills on the set of sitcoms
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on growing up during The Great Depression; on wanting to be an actor; on radio programs he enjoyed as a boy; on his high school years
On his college years at Fordham University; on the beginning of his interest in directing; on his early memories of watching television; on his first job out of college - as an assistant director at NBC; on working as a stage manager at NBC; on mishaps during the era of live television
On the tension on set before live shows; on early television equipment; on the early NBC television studios and sets; on injuries on-set

Chapter 2

On live studio audiences; on meeting Pat Weaver; on his co-workers in early television; on working on live anthology dramas; on entering the Army in 1952 and making training films; on moving to California
On working for NBC in Los Angeles; on the new NBC studios in Burbank and shows he worked on as an assistant director
On directing Truth or Consequences and working with Ralph Edwards; on the Hollywood Blacklist
On directing the "Bob Hope Specials" and "Jerry Lewis Specials" at NBC

Chapter 3

On the producers, writers, and musicians on Bob Hope's television specials; on entertaining troops at USO shows; on Bob Hope's legacy
On directing Jerry Lewis' television specials; on leaving NBC
On directing The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour; on the music and format of the show; on also serving as a producer on the program
On the challenges of directing Hawaii Five-O

Chapter 4

On the joys of directing The Waltons; on directing What's Happening!
On directing Sanford and Son; on producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin; on Redd Foxx's comedy style and relationship with the cast of Sanford and Son; on Redd Foxx falling ill on the set of The Royal Family
On diversity on television and taboo topics during the era of Sanford and Son; on the cast of and production on the show

Chapter 5

On directing The Jeffersons; on the show's premise, characters, stars, and producers; on why he left The Jeffersons; on directing The Jeffersons' spin-off Checking In starring Marla Gibbs
On directing Good Times; on the show's cast; on directing a few episodes of Maude
On his first impressions of being on a television set and the craft of directing

Chapter 6

On the craft of directing and inventing techniques; on how stage managers, assistant directors, and directors work together on set; on preparations for a day of filming and working with actors
On how involved he is with editing; on how the invention of color TV changed his work; on the relationship between producers and directors; on producers he wanted to work for
On how he selected projects; on his approach to directing actors; on setting the tone and pace on set; on his directing style
On directing The Ropers

Chapter 7

On the stars of The Ropers, Norman Fell and Audra Lindley; on directing Silver Spoons and working with Rick Schroeder; on the premise, cast, and producers of the show; on writing an episode of Silver Spoons with his wife; on why he left the show
On directing Designing Women; on the show's premise and stars; on the producers of Designing Women - Linda Blooodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason; on the show's Southern sensibility
On directing Punky Brewster; on directing The Golden Girls and working with the ensemble of Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty
On directing The Cavanaughs and Full House; on directing The Hogan Family and Growing Pains

Chapter 8

On directing The Royal Family starring Redd Foxx and Della Reese; on directing 704 Hauser, Sister, Sister, and Good Behavior
On on his involvement with the Directors Guild of America; on The Radio, Television Directors Guild (RTDG) and network response to the guilds; on the merger of the RTDG and the Screen Directors Guild into the Directors Guild of America (DGA); on the workings of and diversity within the DGA
On the credits issues between the WGA and the DGA; on runaway production; on low budget agreements; on the status of film versus TV directors and directors-for-hire; on his tenure as President of the DGA
On then-current projects

Chapter 9

On his experience directing pilots; on his religious beliefs and how they intertwined with the syndicated program Insight; on co-founding the organization Catholics and Media Associates
On advice to aspiring directors; on mentoring young directors; on the highlight of his career; on career regrets and how he'd like to be remembered
On people with whom he's worked over the years; on his wife
Shows

704 Hauser

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Jack Shea on directing 704 Hauser starring John Amos

All in the Family

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Jack Shea on "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons and their origin on All in the Family

Bert Parks Show, The

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Jack Shea on live studio audiences at The Bert Parks Show

Bob Hope Specials

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Jack Shea on being hired for the "Bob Hope Specials" and "Jerry Lewis Specials" and on Jerry Lewis' personality and Bob Hope's interest in the quality of the writing staff
Jack Shea on how involved Bob Hope was in his TV specials
Jack Shea on producers and writers on Bob Hope's television specials

Checking In

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Jack Shea on directing The Jeffersons' spin-off Checking In starring Marla Gibbs and why he felt it was not given the chance to succeed

Designing Women

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Jack Shea on directing Designing Women - on the cast, premise, and producers

Full House

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Jack Shea on directing Full House

Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The

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Jack Shea on directing The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and working with Glen Campbell and his parents

Golden Girls, The

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Jack Shea on directing The Golden Girls and working with the ensemble of Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty

Good Times

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Jack Shea on directing Good Times

Growing Pains

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Jack Shea on directing Growing Pains

Hawaii Five-O

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Jack Shea on the challenges of directing Hawaii Five-O

Hogan Family, The aka Valerie

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Jack Shea on directing The Hogan Family

Insight

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Jack Shea on his religious beliefs and how they intertwined with the syndicated program Insight

Jeffersons, The

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Jack Shea on directing The Jeffersons, and the popularity and premise of the show 
Jack Shea on "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
Jack Shea on the cast of and producers on The Jeffersons
Jack Shea on why he left The Jeffersons

Jerry Lewis Specials

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Jack Shea on being hired for the "Bob Hope Specials" and "Jerry Lewis Specials" and on Jerry Lewis' personality and Bob Hope's interest in the quality of the writing staff
Jack Shea on directing Jerry Lewis' television specials; on the format of the show

Maude

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Jack Shea on Esther Rolle's Good Times character "Florida's" origins on Maude
Jack Shea on directing Bea Arthur on Maude

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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Jack Shea on working on live anthology dramas like Philco Television Playhouse
Jack Shea on his admiration for Delbert Mann, who he worked with when he started out as a stage manager on Philco Television Playhouse

Punky Brewster

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Jack Shea on directing Punky Brewster and how he directs kids

Ropers, The

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Jack Shea on directing The Ropers
Jack Shea on the stars of The Ropers, Norman Fell and Audra Lindley

Royal Family, The

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Jack Shea on Redd Foxx falling ill on the set of The Royal Family
Jack Shea on directing The Royal Family starring Redd Foxx and Della Reese

Sanford and Son

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Jack Shea on the audience reaction to Redd Foxx (and some of his off-screen antics) on Sanford and Son
Jack Shea on directing Sanford and Son; on the show's producers, premise and working with Redd Foxx
Jack Shea on diversity on television and taboo topics during the era of Sanford and Son
Jack Shea on the cast of and production on Sanford and Son

Silver Spoons

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Jack Shea on directing Silver Spoons
Jack Shea on writing an episode of Silver Spoons with his wife and directing his own work

Sister, Sister

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Jack Shea on directing Sister, Sister

Three's Company

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Jack Shea on the origin of the characters on The Ropers (from Three's Company)

Truth or Consequences

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Jack Shea on working on Truth or Consequences, one of the first shows he directed

Waltons, The

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Jack Shea on the collaborative and careful work that made The Waltons such a rewarding experience for him; on the premise and cast of the show

What's Happening!!

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Jack Shea on directing What's Happening!
Topics

Anthology Drama

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Jack Shea on working on live anthology dramas like Philco Television Playhouse

Bloopers

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Jack Shea on mishaps during the era of live television

Characters & Catchphrases

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Jack Shea on "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons

Diversity in Television

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Jack Shea on diversity on television during the era of Sanford and Son
Jack Shea on diversity within the DGA

Historic Events and Social Change

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Jack Shea on entering the Army in 1952 and making training films
Jack Shea on editing Bob Hope's USO shows
Jack Shea on music director of Bob Hope's television specials, Les Brown, and entertaining troops at USO shows

Hollywood Blacklist

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Jack Shea on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Jack Shea on the Hollywood Blacklist
Jack Shea on the DGA and runaway production

Korean War

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Jack Shea on entering the Army in 1952 and making training films

Memorable Moments on Television

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Jack Shea on "George Jefferson's" walk on The Jeffersons
Jack Shea on directing Leonardo DiCaprio on Growing Pains

Minorities

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Jack Shea on diversity on television during the era of Sanford and Son
Jack Shea on diversity within the DGA

Pop Culture

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Jack Shea on "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons

Runaway Production

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Jack Shea on the DGA and runaway production

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

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Jack Shea on working on live anthology dramas like Philco Television Playhouse

Technological Innovation

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Jack Shea on early television equipment
Jack Shea on how early TV programs were transmitted from California to New York
Jack Shea on how color TV changed his work

Television Industry

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Jack Shea on the Hollywood Blacklist
Jack Shea on the DGA and runaway production

War

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Jack Shea on entering the Army in 1952 and making training films
Jack Shea on editing Bob Hope's USO shows
Jack Shea on music director of Bob Hope's television specials, Les Brown, and entertaining troops at USO shows

We Laughed

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Jack Shea on "George Jefferson's" walk on The Jeffersons

Women

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Jack Shea on diversity within the DGA
Professions

Directors

View Profession
Jack Shea on the beginning of his interest in directing
Jack Shea on how stage managers and assistant directors assist the director
Jack Shea on being promoted to director at NBC
Jack Shea on his first impressions of being on a television set and the craft of directing
Jack Shea on the craft of directing and inventing techniques, and how stage managers, assistant directors, and directors work together on set
Jack Shea on the differences between assistant directors and directors
Jack Shea on preparations for a day of filming and working with actors
Jack Shea on how involved he is with editing
Jack Shea on the relationship between producers and directors
Jack Shea on his approach to directing actors
Jack Shea on setting the tone and on set
Jack Shea on the most important role a director fulfills on the set of sitcoms
Jack Shea on his directing style
Jack Shea on how he directs kids
Jack Shea on his involvement with the Directors Guild of America (DGA)
Jack Shea on The Radio, Television Directors Guild (RTDG) and network response to the guilds
Jack Shea on the merger of the RTDG and the Screen Directors Guild into the Directors Guild of America (DGA)
Jack Shea on who can be a member of the DGA and the role of the organization in the industry; on the international profile of the DGA
Jack Shea on diversity within the DGA
Director Jack Shea on the credits issues between the WGA and the DGA
Jack Shea on the DGA and runaway production
Jack Shea on the DGA and low budget agreements
Jack Shea on the status of film versus TV directors and directors-for-hire
Jack Shea on his tenure as President of the DGA and the importance of the guild and on why he's stayed involved for 50 years

Producers

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Jack Shea on his role as a producer on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
Genres

Comedy Series

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Jack Shea on the cast of and production on Sanford and Son
Jack Shea on directing Sanford and Son and on the show's producers, premise and working with Redd Foxx
Jack Shea on "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
Jack Shea on the cast of and producers on The Jeffersons
Jack Shea on the most important role a director fulfills on the set of sitcoms
Jack Shea on directing Silver Spoons
Jack Shea on directing Designing Women
Jack Shea on directing Golden Girls

Game Shows

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Jack Shea on working on Truth or Consequences, one of the first shows he directed

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Jack Shea on being hired for the "Bob Hope Specials" and "Jerry Lewis Specials" and on Jerry Lewis' personality and Bob Hope's interest in the quality of the writing staff
Jack Shea on directing The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and working with Glen Campbell and his parents
People

Alan Alda

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Jack Shea on working with Alan Alda

John Amos

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Jack Shea on the cast of Good Times - John Amos
Jack Shea on directing 704 Hauser starring John Amos, produced by Norman Lear

Jennifer Aniston

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Jack Shea on working with Jennifer Aniston

Beatrice Arthur

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Jack Shea on directing Bea Arthur in the title role of Maude
Jack Shea on working with the ensemble of The Golden Girls: Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty

Paul Benedict

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Paul Benedict ("Harry Bentley")

Les Brown

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Jack Shea on music director of Bob Hope's television specials, Les Brown, and entertaining troops at USO shows

Delta Burke

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Jack Shea on the stars of Designing Women - Delta Burke

Glen Campbell

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Jack Shea on directing The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and working with Glen Campbell and his parents

Art Carney

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Jack Shea on working with Art Carney on The Cavanaughs

Dixie Carter

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Jack Shea on the stars of Designing Women - Dixie Carter

Imogene Coca

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Jack Shea on working with Imogene Coca

Ellen Corby

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Jack Shea on working with the cast of The Waltons - Ellen Corby

Franklin Cover

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Franklin Cover ("Tom Willis")

Zara Cully

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Zara Cully ("Mother Jefferson")

Leonardo DiCaprio

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Jack Shea on directing Leonardo DiCaprio on Growing Pains

Sandy Duncan

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Jack Shea on working with Sandy Duncan on The Hogan Family

Ralph Edwards

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Jack Shea on working with Ralph Edwards on Truth or Consequences

Mike Evans

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Mike Evans ("Lionel Jefferson")

Norman Fell

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Jack Shea on directing The Ropers
Jack Shea on the stars of The Ropers, Norman Fell and Audra Lindley

Jodie Foster

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Jack Shea on working with Jodie Foster

Redd Foxx

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Jack Shea on the audience reaction to Redd Foxx (and some of his off-screen antics) on Sanford and Son
Jack Shea on problems between Redd Foxx and producers on Sanford and Son
Director Jack Shea on Redd Foxx and his comedy style and relationship with the cast of Sanford and Son
Jack Shea on Redd Foxx falling ill on the set of The Royal Family
Jack Shea on directing The Royal Family starring Redd Foxx and Della Reese

Will Geer

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Jack Shea on working with the cast of The Waltons - Will Geer

Estelle Getty

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Jack Shea on working with the ensemble of The Golden Girls: Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty

Marla Gibbs

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Marla Gibbs ("Florence Johnston")
Jack Shea on directing The Jeffersons' spin-off Checking In starring Marla Gibbs and why he felt it was not given the chance to succeed

Ernest D. Glucksman

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Jack Shea on the producer of Jerry Lewis' television specials, Ernest Glucksman

Earl Hamner, Jr.

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Jack Shea on working with Lee Rich and Earl Hamner, Jr. on The Waltons

Sherman Hemsley

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Jack Shea The Jeffersons' Sherman Hemsley ("George Jefferson")
Jack Shea on directing Good Behavior starring Sherman Hemsley

Joel Higgins

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Jack Shea on working with Joel Higgins on Silver Spoons

Hal Holbrook

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Jack Shea on working with Hal Holbrook on Designing Women

Bob Hope

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Jack Shea on being hired for the "Bob Hope Specials" and "Jerry Lewis Specials" and on Jerry Lewis' personality and Bob Hope's interest in the quality of the writing staff
Jack Shea on producers and writers on Bob Hope's television specials
Jack Shea on music director of Bob Hope's television specials, Les Brown, and entertaining troops at USO shows
Jack Shea on editing Bob Hope's USO shows
Jack Shea on Bob Hope's legacy

John Houseman

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Jack Shea on working with John Houseman on Silver Spoons

Mort Lachman

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Jack Shea on producers and writers on Bob Hope's television specials
Jack Shea on editing Bob Hope's USO shows

Norman Lear

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Jack Shea on Sanford and Son producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin
Jack Shea on how he got involved with directing The Jeffersons
Jack Shea on directing 704 Hauser starring John Amos, produced by Norman Lear

Michael Learned

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Jack Shea on working with the cast of The Waltons - Michael Learned

Jerry Lewis

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Jack Shea on being hired for the "Bob Hope Specials" and "Jerry Lewis Specials" and on Jerry Lewis' personality and Bob Hope's interest in the quality of the writing staff
Jack Shea on directing Jerry Lewis' television specials and Lewis wanting to direct

Audra Lindley

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Jack Shea on directing The Ropers
Jack Shea on the stars of The Ropers, Norman Fell and Audra Lindley

Jack Lord

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Jack Shea on the challenges of directing Hawaii Five-O

Delbert Mann

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Jack Shea on his admiration for Delbert Mann, who he worked with when he started out as a stage manager on Philco Television Playhouse

Whitman Mayo

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Jack Shea on the cast of Sanford and Son - Whitman Mayo

Rue McClanahan

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Jack Shea on working with the ensemble of The Golden Girls: Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty

Barney McNulty

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Jack Shea on working with Barney McNulty

Anne Meara

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Jack Shea on working with Anne Meara

Burgess Meredith

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Jack Shea on working with Burgess Meredith

Agnes Moorehead

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Jack Shea on working with Agnes Moorehead

Pat Morita

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Jack Shea on the cast of Sanford and Son - Pat Morita

Don Nicholl

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' producing team of Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West

Leslie Nielsen

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Jack Shea on working with Leslie Nielsen

Noam Pitlik

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Jack Shea on the cast of Sanford and Son - Noam Pitlik

Annie Potts

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Jack Shea on the stars of Designing Women - Annie Potts

Della Reese

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Jack Shea on directing The Royal Family starring Redd Foxx and Della Reese

John Rich

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Jack Shea on his co-workers in early television

Lee Rich

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Jack Shea on working with Lee Rich and Earl Hamner, Jr. on The Waltons

Roxie Roker

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Roxie Roker ("Helen Willis")

Esther Rolle

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Jack Shea on the cast of Good Times - Esther Rolle
Jack Shea on the cast of Good Times - Esther Rolle

Michael Ross

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' producing team of Don Nichols, Michael Ross, and Bernard West

Isabel Sanford

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Isabel Sanford ("Louise Jefferson")

Bob Schiller

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Jack Shea on working with writers Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf

Rick Schroder

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Jack Shea on working with Rick Schroeder on Silver Spoons

Sherwood Schwartz

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Jack Shea on working with Sherwood Schwartz

Jean Smart

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Jack Shea on the stars of Designing Women - Jean Smart

McLean Stevenson

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Jack Shea on working with McLean Stevenson

George Sunga

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' producer George Sunga

Richard Thomas

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Jack Shea on working with the cast of The Waltons - Richard Thomas

Linda Bloodworth Thomason

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Jack Shea on the producers of Designing Women - Linda Blooodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason

Harry Thomason

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Jack Shea on the producers of Designing Women - Linda Blooodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason

E. Duke Vincent

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Jack Shea on working with E. Duke Vincent

Jimmie Walker

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Jack Shea on the cast of Good Times - Jimmie Walker

Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver

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Jack Shea on meeting Pat Weaver

Bob Weiskopf

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Jack Shea on working with writers Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf

Ned Wertimer

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' Ned Wertimer ("Ralph, the doorman")

Bernard West

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Jack Shea on The Jeffersons' producing team of Don Nichols, Michael Ross, and Bernard West

Betty White

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Jack Shea on working with the ensemble of The Golden Girls: Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty

Demond Wilson

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Jack Shea on the cast of Sanford and Son - Demond Wilson

Bud Yorkin

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Jack Shea on his co-workers in early television
Jack Shea on Sanford and Son producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin

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