George Schaefer


Director

About

Also Known As
George Louis Schaefer
Birth Place
Wallingford, Connecticut, USA
Born
December 16, 1920
Died
September 10, 1997

Biography

A highly distinguished director and producer with credits mostly in theater and television, George Schaefer is best remembered for his work for TV's "Hallmark Hall of Fame," for which he directed and produced a host of renditions of classic plays. He may also be recalled for handling TV-movies that featured several of America's most renowned film stars, such as James Stewart, Bette Davis...

Family & Companions

Mildred Trares
Wife
Actor. Married 1954 until his death in 1997.

Bibliography

"From Live to Tape to Film: Sixty Years of Inconspicuous Directing"
George Schaefer, Directors Guild of America (1996)
"Take One: Television Directors on Directing"
Jack Kuney, Greenwood Press (1990)

Notes

Schaefer was nominated a total of 15 times by the Directors Guild of America; a record held until 1999 when James Burrows tied it.

Biography

A highly distinguished director and producer with credits mostly in theater and television, George Schaefer is best remembered for his work for TV's "Hallmark Hall of Fame," for which he directed and produced a host of renditions of classic plays. He may also be recalled for handling TV-movies that featured several of America's most renowned film stars, such as James Stewart, Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn. Born in Wallingford, Connecticut, Schaefer attended high school in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, where he began his career at age 17, directing a stage production of "Leave It to Smith" for the Pastime Players, a troupe he helped to form. During WWII, he served as director of productions for the US Army special services and first met up with Maurice Evans. After the war, Schaefer directed a version of "Hamlet" also known as "G.I. Hamlet," starring Evans, that first played Off-Broadway, then at the City Center Theatre on Broadway and on tour. He became the artistic director and executive producer of the City Center Theatre from 1949-52, and directed productions at the State Fair Music Hall of Dallas, TX, from 1952-56. He and Evans reteamed for a Broadway production of Shaw's "Man and Superman" in 1947. Six years later, the pair co-produced John Patrick's "Teahouse of the August Moon" which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award. Schaefer staged the London production of "Teahouse" in 1954 then returned to New York to guide a 1955 revival of "Kiss Me, Kate" at City Center (1955). He also directed and produced "Write Me a Murder" in New York (1961) and London (1962). As his TV work increased, Schaefer's stage work became more sporadic after 1970, although he directed the 1980 Los Angeles production of "On Golden Pond."

The name of George Schaefer, however, is indelibly enshrined in the 'Golden Age of TV' alongside such other notables as Fred Coe, John Frankenheimer and Arthur Penn. From the 50s through the 70s, Schaefer directed numerous "Hallmark Hall of Fame" productions, often with many of the same actors, several of whom won accolades for their efforts, including Maurice Evans, Judith Anderson, Julie Harris, Christopher Plummer, Greer Garson and James Daly, to name but a few. Productions he helmed ranged from several stagings of Shakespeare (including "Hamlet" 1953; "Macbeth" 1954; "The Taming of the Shrew" 1956; "The Tempest" 1960) to musicals (e.g., "Kiss Me, Kate" 1958). Schaefer won the first of his five Emmy Awards as director of "Little Moon of Alban" (1958). Some other "Hallmark" highlights included Julie Harris in "Victoria Regina" (1961), Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in "The Magnificent Yankee" (1965), Genevieve Bujold as "St. Joan" (1967), Richard Chamberlain as "Hamlet" (1970) and Peter Ustinov in "Gideon" (1971).

In the early 70s, Schaefer began producing and directing TV-movies and miniseries like "A War of Children" (CBS, 1972) the Emmy-winning examination of 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland. and "Sandberg's Lincoln," a series of six NBC specials starring Hal Holbrook that aired over a two-year period from 1974-76. He was executive producer and occasionally directed the anthology series "Love Story" (NBC, 1973-74) and even branched into variety shows with "The Second Barry Manilow Special" (ABC, 1978) and "Barry Manilow-One Voice" (ABC, 1980). Throughout the 70s and 80s, Schaefer helmed a number of acclaimed TV-movies that featured strong central performances. Richard Chamberlain and Blythe Danner shone as the writer and his wife Zelda in "F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles'" (ABC, 1974). Diana Rigg (as a postulant in "In This House of Brede," CBS 1975), Susan Clark (as "Amelia Earhart," NBC 1976), Mary Tyler Moore (as Betty Rollins, the victim of a double mastectomy, in "First You Cry," CBS 1978) and Ellen Burstyn (as the accused murderer in "The People vs. Jean Harris" NBC 1981) all earned Emmy nominations under his watch and Schaefer guided Anthony Hopkins to a win for his portrayal of Hitler in "The Bunker" (CBS, 1981). Additionally, he produced and directed "Blind Ambition" (CBS, 1979), based on the book by John Dean and starring Martin Sheen and guided Lucille Ball in a rare dramatic role as a bag lady in "The Stone Pillow" (CBS, 1985). Schaefer twice worked with movie queen Bette Davis ("A Piano for Mrs. Cimino," CBS 1982) and ("Right of Way," HBO 1983, which teamed Davis and James Stewart) and his three outings with Katharine Hepburn were diverting but minor efforts like "Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry" (CBS, 1986) and "The Man Upstairs" (CBS, 1992). But he was not limited to productions with star power. He co-produced and directed "Children of the Crossfire" (NBC, 1984), a sort of companion piece to "A War of Children." The telefilm portrayed the effects of a summer trip to the USA on Northern Irish youths. Before his death, Schaefer had completed a TV remake of "Harvey" starring Harry Anderson and Swoosie Kurtz.

Schaefer's feature work was limited and of less stellar quality than his myriad small screen efforts. His first feature was a 1963 version of "Macbeth"; it was essentially the 1961 TV production with additional footage. In 1969, he directed an unsuccessful whodunit, "Pendulum," and guided the sudsy Dyan Cannon vehicle "Doctor's Wives" (1971). Perhaps his best-known feature was "An Enemy of the People" (1977), which offered the Ibsen play updated by Arthur Miller and was a labor of love for star Steve McQueen that only had limited distribution.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Harvey (1999)
Director
The Man Upstairs (1992)
Director
Laura Lansing Slept Here (1988)
Director
Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry (1986)
Director
Stone Pillow (1985)
Director
Children in the Crossfire (1984)
Director
Right of Way (1983)
Director
Piano For Mrs. Cimino (1982)
Director
The Bunker (1981)
Director
Mayflower: The Pilgrim's Adventure (1979)
Director
An Enemy Of The People (1978)
Director
Who'll Save Our Children? (1978)
Director
First You Cry (1978)
Director
The Girl Called Hatter Fox (1977)
Director
Amelia Earhart (1976)
Director
Truman at Potsdam (1976)
Director
In This House of Brede (1975)
Director
F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Last of the Belles (1974)
Director
Once Upon a Scoundrel (1973)
Director
A War of Children (1972)
Director
Doctors' Wives (1971)
Director
Generation (1969)
Director
Pendulum (1969)
Director
Macbeth (1963)
Director
Don Juan Quilligan (1945)
Assistant Director
Fallen Angel (1945)
Assistant Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

Writer (Feature Film)

Macbeth (1963)
Adaptation

Producer (Feature Film)

The Man Upstairs (1992)
Producer
Laura Lansing Slept Here (1988)
Producer
Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry (1986)
Producer
Stone Pillow (1985)
Producer
Children in the Crossfire (1984)
Producer
Right of Way (1983)
Producer
Piano For Mrs. Cimino (1982)
Producer
The Bunker (1981)
Producer
Who'll Save Our Children? (1978)
Producer
An Enemy Of The People (1978)
Producer
The Girl Called Hatter Fox (1977)
Producer
In This House of Brede (1975)
Producer
A War of Children (1972)
Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Bloodfist II (1990)
Other

Director (Special)

Let Me Hear You Whisper (1990)
Director
The Booth (1985)
Director
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1983)
Director
Deadly Game (1982)
Director
Barry Manilow -- One Voice (1980)
Director
The Second Barry Manilow Special (1978)
Director
Our Town (1977)
Director
Land of Hope (1976)
Director
Gideon (1971)
Director
Inherit the Wind (1965)
Director
Eagle in a Cage (1965)
Director
The Holy Terror (1965)
Director
The Magnificent Yankee (1965)
Director
Little Moon of Alban (1964)
Director
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1964)
Director
The Fantasticks (1964)
Director
The Patriots (1963)
Director
Pygmalion (1963)
Director
A Cry of Angels (1963)
Director
The Teahouse of the August Moon (1962)
Director
Arsenic and Old Lace (1962)
Director
Cyrano de Bergerac (1962)
Director
Victoria Regina (1961)
Director
Time Remembered (1961)
Director
The Joke and the Valley (1961)
Director
Give Us Barabbas! (1961)
Director
Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1960)
Director
A Doll's House (1959)
Director
Winterset (1959)
Director
Berkeley Square (1959)
Director
Ah, Wilderness! (1959)
Director
Dial "M" For Murder (1958)
Director
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (1958)
Director
Little Moon of Alban (1958)
Director
Johnny Belinda (1958)
Director
Kiss Me, Kate (1958)
Director
Gift of the Magi (1958)
Director
Harvey (1958)
Director
On Borrowed Time (1957)
Director
There Shall Be No Night (1957)
Director
The Green Pastures (1957)
Director
The Lark (1957)
Director
Twelfth Night (1957)
Director
The Yeoman of the Guard (1957)
Director
The Taming of the Shrew (1956)
Director
The Good Fairy (1956)
Director
Man and Superman (1956)
Director
The Cradle Song (1956)
Director
The Little Foxes (1956)
Director
Dream Girl (1955)
Director
One Touch of Venus (1955)
Director
Macbeth (1954)
Director
Richard II (1954)
Director

Cast (Special)

Jimmy Stewart: Hometown Hero (1993)
The Television Makers (1987)

Writer (Special)

The Booth (1985)
Writer

Producer (Special)

The Booth (1985)
Producer
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1983)
Producer
Our Town (1977)
Producer
Gideon (1971)
Producer
Inherit the Wind (1965)
Producer
The Magnificent Yankee (1965)
Producer
The Holy Terror (1965)
Producer
Eagle in a Cage (1965)
Producer
The Fantasticks (1964)
Producer
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1964)
Producer
Little Moon of Alban (1964)
Producer
A Cry of Angels (1963)
Producer
Pygmalion (1963)
Producer
The Patriots (1963)
Producer
The Teahouse of the August Moon (1962)
Producer
Arsenic and Old Lace (1962)
Producer
Cyrano de Bergerac (1962)
Producer
Time Remembered (1961)
Producer
Give Us Barabbas! (1961)
Producer
Victoria Regina (1961)
Producer
The Joke and the Valley (1961)
Producer
Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1960)
Producer
Golden Child (1960)
Producer
Ah, Wilderness! (1959)
Producer
Berkeley Square (1959)
Producer
Winterset (1959)
Producer
A Doll's House (1959)
Producer
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (1958)
Producer
Little Moon of Alban (1958)
Producer
Dial "M" For Murder (1958)
Producer
Kiss Me, Kate (1958)
Producer
Johnny Belinda (1958)
Producer
Gift of the Magi (1958)
Producer
Twelfth Night (1957)
Producer
There Shall Be No Night (1957)
Producer
The Green Pastures (1957)
Producer
The Yeoman of the Guard (1957)
Producer
The Lark (1957)
Producer
On Borrowed Time (1957)
Producer
Man and Superman (1956)
Producer
Born Yesterday (1956)
Producer
The Little Foxes (1956)
Producer
The Cradle Song (1956)
Producer

Special Thanks (Special)

The Booth (1985)
Writer

Director (TV Mini-Series)

The Devil's Disciple (1955)
Director

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

The People vs. Jean Harris (1981)
Producer
Blind Ambition (1979)
Producer

Life Events

1937

Early stage work, directed "Leave It to Smith" for Pastime Players

1942

Was director of close to 50 productions for US Army Special Services; first collaboration with Maurice Evans

1945

Directed "Hamlet" (aka "G.I. Hamlet") Off-Broadway, moved to City Center Theatre in 1946

1947

With Evans, produced the Broadway revival of Shaw's "Man and Superman"

1953

With Evans, produced "Teahouse of the August Moon" on Broadway; won Tony Award

1953

Directed "Hamlet" for NBC's "Hallmark Hall of Fame"

1954

Staged London production of "Teahouse of the August Moon"

1958

Directed and produced "Little Moon of Alban" for "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (NBC), won first Emmy Award

1958

Helmed TV version of "Harvey", starring Art Carney

1959

Beacame president of Compass Productions

1963

Feature directorial debut, "Macbeth", originally made for TV and released theatrically with additional footage

1969

Helmed the feature "Pendulum"

1972

Directed the acclaimed Emmy-winning TV-movie "A War of Children" (CBS), set in Northern Ireland

1978

Final feature, produced and directed "An Enemy of the People", based on Arthur Miller's version of the Ibsen play and starring Steve McQueen

1980

Staged Los Angeles production of "On Golden Pond"

1982

Formed Shaefer/Karpf Productions with Merrill H Karpf

1986

First TV collaboration with Katharine Hepburn, "Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry" (CBS)

1986

Joined faculty of UCLA as chairman, School of Theatre, Film and Television

1992

Produced and directed the CBS comedy-drama "The Man Upstairs", which marked Katharine Hepburn's final appearance in a TV-movie

1997

Final production, directed Harry Anderson in TV remake of "Harvey"

Family

Louis Schaefer
Father
Salesman.
Elise Schaefer
Mother
Louis Schaefer
Brother
Survived him.
William Schaefer
Brother
Survived him.

Companions

Mildred Trares
Wife
Actor. Married 1954 until his death in 1997.

Bibliography

"From Live to Tape to Film: Sixty Years of Inconspicuous Directing"
George Schaefer, Directors Guild of America (1996)
"Take One: Television Directors on Directing"
Jack Kuney, Greenwood Press (1990)

Notes

Schaefer was nominated a total of 15 times by the Directors Guild of America; a record held until 1999 when James Burrows tied it.