Don Mischer was a director and producer of live television events, including numerous Super Bowl Halftime Shows, Primetime Emmy Awards ceremonies and Annual Academy Award Ceremonies, as well as the 2004 Democratic Convention and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Born and raised in San Antonio, TX, to Lillian and Elmer Mischer, Mischer's early life was spent without the influence of television, during the era before it became a staple object in every American household. His introduction to the world of television work came while he was a student at the University of Texas in the city of Austin. In the aftermath of the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, he became a runner for the many television news networks who were arriving in Texas to do follow-up stories. Bitten by the television bug, he decided to forego his planned PhD studies and intention to become a teacher or an academic in favor of getting into television. Earning a scholarship to learn the craft of the medium, he found a mentor in documentary filmmaker Bob Squier and an extensive apprenticeship working with the United States Information Agency.
After a range of lower-level work in various roles, Mischer's first major television role was as a director on "Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell" (ABC 1975-76; not to be confused with the comedy series of the same name). Although the show bomb and he later admitted that it wasn't very good, it was noted in the industry that he'd done the best job he could in difficult circumstances. Through a combination of good word of mouth about his abilities and good representation, he graduated in the years which followed to primetime television specials including "The Goldie Hawn Special" (CBS 1978), "The Third Barry Manilow Special" (ABC 1979) and "Goldie and Liza Together" (CS 1980), as well as directing and producing the annual "The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts" (1978-02).
Forming his own production company in 1981, Mischer's credits as both director and producer went from strength to strength. Among his many high-profile television live variety and entertainment productions over the next few years included "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever" (NBC 1983), the legendary special on which Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk, "Motown Returns to the Apollo" (NBC 1985) and "Liza in London" (HBO 1986), while his career would hit new national and international class levels with the Michael Jackson-starring "Super Bowl XXVII Halftime Show" (NBC 1993). It would be the first of five Super Bowl Halftime Shows he would direct with artists including Prince, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen.
Other major successes Mischer either directed or produced over the years included multiple Tony Awards shows, every primetime Emmy Awards since 1989 and the Academy Awards beginning in 2010. He produced the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Democratic National Convention, during which he achieved viral infamy for being caught swearing on live television when a balloon prop failed.