Mel Shavelson

Writer / 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, Mel Shavelson (1917-2007) talks about starting out as a press agent with Milt Josefsberg in 1938. He moved to Los Angeles the following year, with Mr. Josefsberg, to write for the radio show "The Pepsodent Bob Hope Show." In 1947, he wrote for the first commercial television program ever broadcast west of the Mississippi, for Paramount's experimental station W6XYZ that became KTLA. In 1953, he created the sitcom Make Room For Daddy. Mr. Shavelson also discusses the critically acclaimed series My World and Welcome To It, which he also created. He reminisces about writing for several years of the Academy Awards broadcasts. He also talks about the Writers Guild of America, for which he served as president. He speaks about writing and directing the following television movies: The Legend of Valentino, The Great Houdini, and Ike. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on April 6, 1999.

"If you are an original and if you can write, you can't stop it.  A real writer always writes. And it's the loneliest and the toughest."

Highlights
Mel Shavelson on writing The Danny Thomas Show
06:51
Mel Shavelson on creating My World ... and Welcome to It
13:13
Mel Shavelson on his TV movie The Great Houdini
07:56
Mel Shavelson on working with Lucille Ball on the feature film Yours, Mine and Ours
04:54
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on and on being part of a minstrel show in high school, and on racial breakthroughs in television; on movies he watched growing up
On writing around NBC standards and practices for Bob Hope; on the kind of writing he did when he was younger, and on getting into writing comedy; on getting a job writing jokes for newspaper columns in 1937

Chapter 2

On working with Milt Josefsberg, and on how he came to be a writer for Bob Hope; on writing for Bob Hope's radio show; on the format of Bob Hope's radio show
On writing the various segments of Bob Hope's radio show, and on working with Judy Garland; on how Bob Hope tested his material for his radio show, and on Hope's comedic style
On Bob Hope acting in movies, and on doing his radio show for the soldiers during World War II; on Bob Hope's traveling around the world entertaining soldiers during World War II;on Bob Hope bringing his radio show to Vaudeville, and on Hope's celebrity

Chapter 3

On how Bob Hope treated his writers, and on what he learned as a writer for Hope; on Bob Hope doing jokes about Senator Joseph McCarthy; on censorship on Bob Hope's radio show
On Bob Hope entertaining the troops in Vietnam, and on the politics of the time; on the early development of television, and of color television, and on writing an early experimental broadcast with Bob Hope
On finding the topics for Bob Hope's jokes, and on Hope's "jokes vault"; on leaving Bob Hope's radio show

Chapter 4

On writing feature films for Bob Hope, and how he came to write for Danny Thomas; on writing The Danny Thomas Show; on helping to shape The Danny Thomas Show
On how Danny Thomas took to television on The Danny Thomas Show; on the writing process of The Danny Thomas Show, and on the writers of the show; on the network relationship with The Danny Thomas Show

Chapter 5

On his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist, and on the societal impact of television; on how the television industry has changed since he started; on directing the Bob Hope feature film "The Seven Little Foys"
On his style of directing; on writing material for Academy Awards telecasts

Chapter 6

On the relationship between movies studios and networks in the '50s; on the growth of television; on a directors strike
On creating My World and Welcome to It

Chapter 7

On his affiliation with the WGA; on writers strikes
On his duties as president of the WGA; on serving three terms as president of the WGA, and the WGA Foundation; on the WGA's relationship with other entertainment guilds and on the writing he did for Ike: The War Years

Chapter 8

On his work on the miniseries Ike; on his TV movie The Great Houdini
On directing features, including "Houseboat"; on advice to aspiring writers: on how he'd like to be remembered

Chapter 9

On some of the people he worked with in his career including Milt Josefsberg, Sy Rose, Al Schwartz, Sheldon Leonard, Lucille Ball, Jack Rose; on his family
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Mel Shavelson on writing material for The Academy Awards telecasts hosted by Bob Hope
06:13

Bob Hope Specials

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Writer Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope entertaining the troops during the Vietnam War
04:40

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

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Mel Shavelson on writing The Danny Thomas Show
06:51
Mel Shavelson on helping to shape The Danny Thomas Show
05:07
Mel Shavelson on how Danny Thomas took to television on The Danny Thomas Show
02:46
Mel Shavelson on the writing process of The Danny Thomas Show, and on the writers of the show
07:10
Mel Shavelson on the network relationship with The Danny Thomas Show
02:18

Great Houdini, The

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Mel Shavelson on his TV movie The Great Houdini
07:56

Ike: The War Years

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Mel Shavelson on the writing he did for Ike: The War Years
00:40
Mel Shavelson on his work on the miniseries Ike: The War Years
07:07

My World ... and Welcome to it

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Mel Shavelson on creating My World ... and Welcome to It
13:13
Topics

Advice

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Mel Shavelson on how he'd like to be remembered
01:09

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Mel Shavelson on writing around NBC standards and practices for Bob Hope
03:02
Mel Shavelson on censorship on Bob Hope's radio show
01:28

Historic Events and Social Change

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Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope entertaining the troops in Vietnam, and on the politics of the time
07:03

Hollywood Blacklist

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Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope doing jokes about Senator Joseph McCarthy
01:40
Mel Shavelson on his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist, and on the societal impact of television
09:39

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope doing jokes about Senator Joseph McCarthy
01:40
Mel Shavelson on his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist, and on the societal impact of television
09:39

Television Industry

View Topic
Mel Shavelson on writing around NBC standards and practices for Bob Hope
03:02
Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope doing jokes about Senator Joseph McCarthy
01:40
Mel Shavelson on the early development of television, and of color television, and on writing an early experimental broadcast with Bob Hope
09:49
Mel Shavelson on his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist, and on the societal impact of television
09:39
Mel Shavelson on how the television industry has changed since he started
02:01
Mel Shavelson on the growth of television
03:23
Mel Shavelson on how he'd like to be remembered
01:09

Vietnam War

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Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope entertaining the troops in Vietnam, and on the politics of the time
07:03

War

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Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope entertaining the troops in Vietnam, and on the politics of the time
07:03
Professions

Writers

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Mel Shavelson on advice to aspiring writers
03:12
Genres

Comedy Series

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Mel Shavelson on writing The Danny Thomas Show
29:04
On creating My World and Welcome to It
13:13
People

Lucille Ball

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Mel Shavelson on working with Lucille Ball on the feature film Yours, Mine and Ours
04:54

Judy Garland

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Mel Shavelson on writing the various segments of Bob Hope's radio show, and on working with Judy Garland
02:37

Bob Hope

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Mel Shavelson on writing around NBC standards and practices for Bob Hope
03:02
Mel Shavelson on working with Milt Josefsberg, and on how he came to be a writer for Bob Hope
04:16
Mel Shavelson on writing for Bob Hope's radio show
05:30
Mel Shavelson on the format of Bob Hope's radio show, and on the process of getting the show on
05:11
Mel Shavelson on writing the various segments of Bob Hope's radio show, and on working with Judy Garland
02:37
Mel Shavelson on how Bob Hope tested his material for his radio show, and on Hope's comedic style
02:46
Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope acting in movies, and on doing his radio show for the soldiers during World War II
04:28
Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope's traveling around the world entertaining soldiers during World War II
02:46
Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope bringing his radio show to Vaudeville, and on Hope's celebrity
01:56
Mel Shavelson on how Bob Hope treated his writers, and on what he learned as a writer for Hope
03:26
Mel Shavelson on finding the topics for Bob Hope's jokes, and on Hope's "jokes vault"
04:12
Mel Shavelson on leaving Bob Hope's radio show
01:04
Mel Shavelson on the early development of television, and of color television, and on writing an early experimental broadcast with Bob Hope
09:49
Mel Shavelson on writing feature films for Bob Hope, and how he came to write for Danny Thomas
04:52
Mel Shavelson on directing the Bob Hope feature film "The Seven Little Foys"
03:49
Mel Shavelson on writing material for The Academy Awards telecasts hosted by Bob Hope
06:13

Milt Josefsberg

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Mel Shavelson on working with Milt Josefsberg, and on how he came to be a writer for Bob Hope
04:16

Joseph McCarthy

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Mel Shavelson on Bob Hope doing jokes about Senator Joseph McCarthy
01:40

Danny Thomas

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Mel Shavelson on writing feature films for Bob Hope, and how he came to write for Danny Thomas
04:52
Mel Shavelson on how Danny Thomas took to television on The Danny Thomas Show
02:46

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