William Self

Producer / Network Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, William Self (1921-2010) discusses his early career acting in movies and his friendship with Spencer Tracy, which led to his television producing career. He talks about producing the series Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, The Frank Sinatra Show, and the pilot of The Twlight Zone. He then discusses his brief executive position at CBS and his executive producer position at 20th Century Fox Television. Self talks about his promotions at Fox, eventually rising to President of 20th Century Fox Television and Vice President of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, where he oversaw shows including The Adventures of Dobie Gillis, Batman, Daniel Boone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Peyton Place, Lost in Space, M*A*S*H, Julia, and Room 222, among others. He concludes by discussing his relationships with various producers and directors and his partnership with actress Glenn Close on the Sarah Plain and Tall movies. Jeff Abraham conducted the interview on March 27, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA.

"Fox was not structured. We were much more casual about things. It didn't matter that your job was a casting director, if you had a story idea, you'd come in and see me. The table of organization was very flexible. I think that's kind of all gone."

Highlights
William Self on developing M*A*S*H with Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds
06:32
William Self on an unsold pilot, and on the difficulties he had with producing The Frank Sinatra Show
04:54
William Self on developing The Monroes, and on developing Julia, starring Diahann Carroll
02:57
William Self on executive producing the pilot for The Twilight Zone, and working with show creator Rod Serling
06:05
William Self on various episodes of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, including "The Unlighted Road," starring James Dean
04:45
William Self on moving to Hollywood, trying to get into acting, and his career as an actor in features
04:56
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his education, and on almost going into advertising; on moving to Hollywood, trying to get into acting, and his career as an actor in features
12:50
On appearing in Charlie Chaplin's feature film "Monsieur Verdoux"; on appearing as an actor in feature films with John Wayne, Howard Hawkes, and Spencer Tracy; on appearing in the feature film "The Thing," and on the end of his acting career
10:37
On assistant producing and assistant directing China Smith; on producing Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
05:51

Chapter 2

On producing the live anthology series Schlitz Playhouse of Stars; on finding the stories for Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, the various stars who appeared, and on his duties as producer of that show; on various episodes of the show, including "The Unlighted Road," starring James Dean
09:42
On Anthony Quinn appearing on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and on dealing with bigger stars; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on the involvement of the sponsors with the production of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and on various actors who appeared on the show
12:11
On directing a few episodes of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars; on producing the unsold Frank Sinatra pilot Command Performance; on producing The Frank Sinatra Show
07:27

Chapter 3

On an unsold pilot, and on the difficulties he had with producing The Frank Sinatra Show; on executive producing the pilot for The Twilight Zone, and working with show creator Rod Serling
16:07
On being named vice president in charge of production for 20th Century Fox Television; on developing Margie, and on the team he brought to Twentieth Century Fox Television; on developing various shows, including Daniel Boone, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
12:37

Chapter 4

On developing Irwin Allen's Lost in Space; on Edgar J. Scherick, vice president of programming for ABC, and various other network executives; on developing Peyton Place
10:39
On developing Batman and The Green Hornet; on developing The Monroes, and on developing Julia, starring Diahann Carroll; on developing Bracken's World
17:16

Chapter 5

On developing Land of the Giants with Irwin Allen, and on developing The Ghost & Mrs. Muir; on developing Room 222, starring Karen Valentine, and on developing Nanny and the Professor, starring Juliette Mills; on developing Anna and the King, starring Yul Brynner
07:57
On developing M*A*S*H with Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds; on the success of M*A*S*H, and on the format of the show; on the cast departures from M*A*S*H, and on Alan Alda's increasing role as the show went on
12:53
On leaving Fox Television to work in features, including "The Shootist," starring John Wayne, and on returning to CBS to head up the West Coast
08:37

Chapter 6

On being lured back to CBS, and eventually being named vice president in charge of movies and miniseries; on various movies and miniseries he developed for CBS, and the challenge of making made-for-television movies; on becoming head of the CBS theatrical division
12:12
On his retirement from CBS, and on forming a production company with Glenn Close; on his then-future; on how the business changed throughout his career, and on career achievements and regrets
13:48
Shows

12 O'Clock High

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William Self on developing The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Daniel Boone, and 12 O'Clock High
03:47

Anna and the King

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William Self on developing Anna and the King
02:30

Batman

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William Self on developing Batman
05:01

Bracken's World

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William Self on developing Bracken's World
07:01

China Smith

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William Self on assistant producing and assistant directing China Smith
02:38

Daniel Boone

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William Self on developing The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Daniel Boone, and 12 O'Clock High
03:47

Frank Sinatra Show, The (1957-58)

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William Self on producing The Frank Sinatra Show
04:51
William Self on an unsold pilot, and on the difficulties he had with producing The Frank Sinatra Show
04:54
William Self on the end of The Frank Sinatra Show
02:09

Ghost & Mrs. Muir, The

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William Self on developing Land of the Giants with Irwin Allen, and on developing The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
03:04

Green Hornet, The

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William Self on developing The Green Hornet
00:57

Hallmark Hall of Fame

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William Self on programming movies for Hallmark Hall of Fame
03:33

Julia

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William Self on developing Julia, starring Diahann Carroll
02:13

Land of the Giants

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William Self on developing Land of the Giants with Irwin Allen, and on developing The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
03:03

Lost in Space

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William Self on developing Irwin Allen's Lost in Space
03:10

M*A*S*H

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William Self on developing M*A*S*H with Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds
06:32
William Self on the success of M*A*S*H, and on the format of the show
02:45
William Self on the cast departures from M*A*S*H, and on Alan Alda's increasing role as the show went on
03:35

Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The

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William Self on developing The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Daniel Boone, and 12 O'Clock High
03:47

Margie

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William Self on developing Margie, and on the team he brought to Twentieth Century Fox Television
03:22

Nanny and the Professor

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William Self on developing Nanny and the Professor
00:39

Peyton Place

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William Self on developing Peyton Place
03:20

Room 222

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William Self on developing Room 222
02:23

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars aka Celebrity Playhouse

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William Self on producing Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
03:12
William Self on producing the live anthology series Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
02:17
William Self on finding the stories for the live anthology series Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, the various stars who appeared, and on his duties as producer of that show
02:40
William Self on various episodes of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, including "The Unlighted Road," starring James Dean
04:45
William Self on Anthony Quinn appearing on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and on dealing with bigger stars
02:06
William Self on the involvement of the sponsors with the production of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
01:06
William Self on directing Thomas Mitchell and Mike Connors on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and various other actors
03:51
William Self on working with John Ireland and Vera Miles on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
03:52
William Self on directing a few episodes of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
01:49

Twilight Zone, The

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William Self on executive producing the pilot for The Twilight Zone, and working with show creator Rod Serling
06:05
William Self on the reaction of the network and sponsors to The Twilight Zone pilot, and on parting ways with Rod Serling
02:59

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

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William Self on developing Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
01:18
Topics

Hollywood Blacklist

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William Self on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist as a producer
01:13

Industry Crossroads

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William Self on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist as a producer
01:13

Television Industry

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William Self on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist as a producer
01:13
William Self on being named vice president in charge of production for 20th Century Fox Television
04:09
William Self on leaving Fox Television to work in features, including "The Shootist" starring John Wayne, and on returning to CBS to head up the West Coast
07:29
William Self on being lured back to CBS, and eventually being named vice president in charge of movies and miniseries
02:56
William Self on becoming head of the CBS theatrical division
02:03
William Self on his retirement from CBS, and on forming a production company with Glenn Close
03:07
William Self on how the business changed throughout his career
03:45
Professions

Producers

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William Self on his retirement from CBS, and on forming a production company with Glenn Close
03:07
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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William Self on producing Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
03:12
William Self on producing and directing Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
23:42
William Self on executive producing the pilot for The Twilight Zone
09:04

Comedy Series

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William Self on developing The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Daniel Boone, and 12 O'Clock High
03:57
William Self on developing The Monroes, and Julia, starring Diahann Carroll
02:57
William Self on developing Land of the Giants with Irwin Allen, and on developing The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
03:03
William Self on developing Room 222 and Nanny and the Professor
02:23
William Self on developing Anna and the King
02:00
William Self on developing M*A*S*H
13:23

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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William Self on assistant producing and assistant directing China Smith
02:37
William Self on developing Batman
05:01
William Self on developing The Green Hornet
00:57

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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William Self on developing Peyton Place
03:20

Drama Series

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William Self on developing Bracken's World
07:01

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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William Self on producing The Frank Sinatra Show
04:10
William Self on an unsold pilot, and on the difficulties he had with producing The Frank Sinatra Show
07:03

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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William Self on developing Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
01:09
William Self on developing Irwin Allen's Lost in Space
03:10
William Self on developing Land of the Giants with Irwin Allen, and on developing The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
03:03

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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William Self on various movies and miniseries he developed for CBS, and the challenge of making made-for-television movies
03:42

Western Series

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William Self on developing The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Daniel Boone, and 12 O'Clock High
03:57
People

Alan Alda

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William Self on the cast departures from M*A*S*H, and on Alan Alda's increasing role as the show went on
03:35

Irwin Allen

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William Self on developing Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
01:18
William Self on developing Irwin Allen's Lost in Space
03:10

Yul Brynner

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William Self on developing Anna and the King, starring Yul Brynner
02:30

Diahann Carroll

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William Self on developing Julia, starring Diahann Carroll
02:13

Charlie Chaplin

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William Self on appearing in Charlie Chaplin's feature film "Monsieur Verdoux"
01:28

Glenn Close

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William Self on his retirement from CBS, and on forming a production company with Glenn Close
03:07

Mike Connors

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William Self on directing Thomas Mitchell and Mike Connors on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and various other actors
03:51

Michael Dann

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William Self on CBS head of programming Michael Dann, and other executives
01:52

James Dean

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William Self on various episodes of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, including "The Unlighted Road," starring James Dean
04:45

Larry Gelbart

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William Self on developing M*A*S*H with Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds
06:32

Hal Kanter

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William Self on his relationship with Hal Kanter
01:19

Vera Miles

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William Self on working with John Ireland and Vera Miles on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
03:52

Thomas Mitchell

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William Self on directing Thomas Mitchell and Mike Connors on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and various other actors
03:50

Anthony Quinn

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William Self on Anthony Quinn appearing on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and on dealing with bigger stars
02:06

Gene Reynolds

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William Self on developing M*A*S*H with Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds
06:32

Edgar J. Scherick

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William Self on Edgar J. Scherick, vice president of programming for ABC
02:15

Rod Serling

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William Self on executive producing the pilot for The Twilight Zone, and working with show creator Rod Serling
06:04

Frank Sinatra

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William Self on producing The Frank Sinatra Show
04:10
William Self on an unsold pilot, and on the difficulties he had with producing The Frank Sinatra Show
07:03

Spencer Tracy

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William Self on appearing in several features with Spencer Tracy
02:12

John Wayne

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William Self on appearing in Howard Hawkes' "Red River" with John Wayne
03:46

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