Sheldon Leonard

Actor/Director/Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Sheldon Leonard (1907-97) shares his fondest memories about the pioneering programs he produced such as The Danny Thomas Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show and I Spy. He also speaks highly of the talented group of people he worked with, like Danny Thomas, Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Cosby, Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner and Andy Griffith. Not only is Leonard's interview significant to the Archive because of his death just six months after the interview but because of the warmth, candor and vivid storytelling apparent throughout the interview as well. Sam Denoff conducted the interview in Beverly Hills, CA on July 11, 1996.

"The producer has to present a series of playable scripts, a bunch of literary material, that's got to be ready to shoot week after week. And, it's got to have the integrity of character from one script to another. You have to respect the history of the show. It's a very complicated thing."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show
Sheldon Leonard on creating I Spy
Sheldon Leonard on directing a Lassie episode featuring a lion
Sheldon Leonard on how The Dick Van Dyke Show came about
Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"
Sheldon Leonard on the Hollywood Blacklist and on how he got some writers reinstated
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success; on writers he met in radio that he later hired for television
)n seeing television for the first time at the 1939 World's Fair; on how he came to write for television
On how directing for television was different from directing feature films; on his work producing and directing The Danny Thomas Show

Chapter 2

On his role in producing multiple series; on the business of television production
On the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show
On how The Dick Van Dyke Show came about; on casting Mary Tyler Moore as "Laura Petrie" on The Dick Van Dyke Show

Chapter 3

On how The Dick Van Dyke Show got on the air; on why The Dick Van Dyke Show was not sucessful its first year; on winning Emmy Awards and on network censorship issues with The Dick Van Dyke Show
On the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"; on casting of Bill Cosby in I Spy; on the set of Dick Van Dyke Show and on the end of the series
On The Don Rickles Show; on creating I Spy; on the concept of I Spy and what made the show work
On working with Robert Culp on I Spy and on working with location scout Fouad Said; on the logistics and cost of shooting I Spy around the world; on My World and Welcome to It and Big Eddie

Chapter 4

On having television shows that don't work; on the Hollywood Blacklist and on how he got some writers reinstated; on how the television industry changed during his time as a producer
On his favorite moments from The Danny Thomas Show  and The Dick Van Dyke Show; on directing a Lassie episode featuring a lion; on working with Millicent Martin and Shirley MacLaine
On the then-current state of comedy on television; on pitching a sitcom to a network with Jack Benny and Benny's frustration in dealing with the executives; on the then-declining network audience share
On individuals he worked with in his career

Chapter 5

On some of the individuals he worked with in his career
On b-roll pictures from his life- in a college play in 1928; 1934 in a play; early headshot; in a 1931 feature film; with Shemp Howard; on the set of "Captain Kidd"; publicity shot; as a Native American; with Danny Thomas; on the set of The Danny Thomas Show; with Danny Thomas, Joey Bishop, and Dick Van Dyke; with the cast and crew of The Dick Van Dyke Show; reunion of The Dick Van Dyke Show; with Jay Sandrich; with Carl Reiner; with a bullhorn directing I Spy ; with Bill Cosby and Robert Culp; at the Emmy Awards; with Don Rickles; with Mel Blanc and Phil Harris; with Bill Cosby and Ed McMahon; at the Television Academy; in Orlando, FL with Andy Griffith and cast; with Bill Cosby at the Television Academy Hall of Fame; with an Emmy Award; fishing; as George Washington; with Danny Thomas
Shows

Andy Griffith Show, The

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Sheldon Leonard on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success
Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show

Big Eddie

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Sheldon Leonard on My World and Welcome to It and Big Eddie

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

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Sheldon Leonard on his work producing and directing The Danny Thomas Show
Sheldon Leonard describes his favorite moments from The Danny Thomas Show  and The Dick Van Dyke Show

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

View Show Page
Sheldon Leonard on how The Dick Van Dyke Show came about
Sheldon Leonard on how The Dick Van Dyke Show got on the air
Sheldon Leonard on why The Dick Van Dyke Show was not sucessful its first year
Sheldon Leonard on network censorship issues with The Dick Van Dyke Show
Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"
Sheldon Leonard on the set of Dick Van Dyke Show and on the end of the series
Sheldon Leonard describes his favorite moments from The Danny Thomas Show  and The Dick Van Dyke Show

Don Rickles Show, The

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Sheldon Leonard on the failure of The Don Rickles Show (1972)
Sheldon Leonard on The Don Rickles Show

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Sheldon Leonard on winning Emmy Awards

I Spy

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Sheldon Leonard on casting of Bill Cosby in I Spy
Sheldon Leonard on creating I Spy
Sheldon Leonard on the concept of I Spy and what made the show work
Sheldon Leonard on working with Robert Culp on I Spy and on working with location scout Fouad Said
Sheldon Leonard on the logistics and cost of shooting I Spy around the world
Sheldon Leonard on the end of I Spy
Producer Sheldon Leonard gives an example of network script notes on I Spy

Lassie

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Sheldon Leonard on directing a Lassie episode featuring a lion
Topics

1939-40 World's Fair

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Sheldon Leonard on seeing television for the first time at the 1939 World's Fair

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Sheldon Leonard on network censorship issues with The Dick Van Dyke Show

Characters & Catchphrases

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Sheldon Leonard on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success

Comedy

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Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"

Diversity in Television

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Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"

Emmy Awards

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Sheldon Leonard on winning Emmy Awards

Historic Events and Social Change

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Sheldon Leonard on seeing television for the first time at the 1939 World's Fair
Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"

Hollywood Blacklist

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Sheldon Leonard on the Hollywood Blacklist and on how he got some writers reinstated

Industry Crossroads

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Sheldon Leonard on the Hollywood Blacklist and on how he got some writers reinstated

Memorable Moments on Television

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Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"

Pop Culture

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Sheldon Leonard on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success
Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"

Studio and Network Management

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Sheldon Leonard gives an example of network script notes on I Spy

Television Industry

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Sheldon Leonard on network censorship issues with The Dick Van Dyke Show
Sheldon Leonard on having television shows that don't work
Sheldon Leonard on the Hollywood Blacklist and on how he got some writers reinstated
Sheldon Leonard on how the television industry changed during his time as a producer
Sheldon Leonard on an example of network script notes on I Spy
Sheldon Leonard on the then-current state of comedy on television
Sheldon Leonard on the then-declining network audience share

Underrepresented Voices

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Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"
Sheldon Leonard on casting of Bill Cosby in I Spy

We Laughed

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Sheldon Leonard on the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?"
Professions

Directors

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Sheldon Leonard on how directing for television was different from directing feature films

Producers

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Sheldon Leonard on his role as a Producer of multiple shows on television
Producer Sheldon Leonard gives an example of network script notes on I Spy
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Sheldon Leonard on creating I Spy

Comedy Series

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Producer Sheldon Leonard on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success
Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show
Sheldon Leonard on how The Dick Van Dyke Show came about
Sheldon Leonard on how The Dick Van Dyke Show got on the air
Sheldon Leonard on The Don Rickles Show
Sheldon Leonard on My World and Welcome to It and Big Eddie
People

Jack Benny

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Sheldon Leonard on pitching a sitcom to a network with Jack Benny and Benny's frustration in dealing with the executives 

Bill Cosby

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Sheldon Leonard on casting of Bill Cosby in I Spy

Robert Culp

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Sheldon Leonard on working with Robert Culp on I Spy and on working with location scout Fouad Said

Dick Van Dyke

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Sheldon Leonard on how The Dick Van Dyke Show came about

Andy Griffith

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Sheldon Leonard on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success
Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show

Ron Howard

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Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show co-starring Ron Howard as "Opie Taylor"

Shirley MacLaine

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Sheldon Leonard on working with Millicent Martin and Shirley MacLaine

Mary Tyler Moore

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Sheldon Leonard on the casting of Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show

Carl Reiner

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Sheldon Leonard on how The Dick Van Dyke Show came about co-produced by Carl Reiner

Aaron Ruben

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Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show co-produced by Aaron Ruben

Fouad Said

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Sheldon Leonard on working with Robert Culp on I Spy and on working with location scout Fouad Said

Danny Thomas

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Sheldon Leonard on his work producing and directing The Danny Thomas Show
Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show co-produced by Danny Thomas

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