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James Sheldon

Director

James Sheldon on a nearly disastrous appearance by Billie Holiday on We, The People

05:35

I remember I was doing ['Today's FBI'] for Dave Gerber, and he asked me afterward, 'Why are the actors better with you? What do you tell them? Because I'd like to be able to tell my other directors.' And I said, 'I don't know, David.' So I asked one of the actors, I said, 'What do I tell you that's different from the others?' And he said, 'No, you don't tell us anything, Jimmy, you just make us feel comfortable and loved.'

About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, James Sheldon (1920-2016) speaks about breaking into the business as an NBC page, and, after a few years in advertising, turning his attentions to directing for television. He describes his work on several shows from the 1950s including such diverse fare as: the sitcom Mister Peepers, daytime variety series The Eddie Albert Show, military anthology West Point, and the drama The Millionaire. He tells stories of memorable guest stars on the radio-turned-television-show We, The People, and also speaks in great detail about his relationship with then-budding actor James Dean. He discusses directing "live" television productions of Armstrong Circle Theatre and Robert Montgomery Presents, as well as his work on the anthology series The Twilight Zone, including directing the classic episode "It's A Good Life" starring Billy Mumy. Other series he discusses included Family Affair, My Three Sons, Route 66, Cagney & Lacey, and M*A*S*H. B-roll consists of photos from shows Sheldon worked on and Sheldon himself at work. Karen Herman conducted the interview on April 6, 2005 in New York, NY.

I remember I was doing ['Today's FBI'] for Dave Gerber, and he asked me afterward, 'Why are the actors better with you? What do you tell them? Because I'd like to be able to tell my other directors.' And I said, 'I don't know, David.' So I asked one of the actors, I said, 'What do I tell you that's different from the others?' And he said, 'No, you don't tell us anything, Jimmy, you just make us feel comfortable and loved.'

Interview Highlights

Embedded thumbnail for James Sheldon on a nearly disastrous appearance by Billie Holiday on We, The People

James Sheldon on a nearly disastrous appearance by Billie Holiday on We, The People

James Sheldon on a nearly disastrous appearance by Billie Holiday on We, The People05:35
Embedded thumbnail for James Sheldon on not being allowed to cast Eddie Albert on an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre because of the Blacklist

James Sheldon on not being allowed to cast Eddie Albert on an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre because of the Blacklist

James Sheldon on not being allowed to cast Eddie Albert on an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre because of the Blacklist01:26
Embedded thumbnail for James Sheldon on nearly casting James Dean on Mama and helping him get an agent

James Sheldon on nearly casting James Dean on Mama and helping him get an agent

James Sheldon on nearly casting James Dean on Mama and helping him get an agent03:58
Embedded thumbnail for James Sheldon on the birth of his son being announced on The Eddie Albert Show

James Sheldon on the birth of his son being announced on The Eddie Albert Show

James Sheldon on the birth of his son being announced on The Eddie Albert Show01:08
Embedded thumbnail for James Sheldon on why he enjoyed directing Route 66 and Naked City

James Sheldon on why he enjoyed directing Route 66 and Naked City

James Sheldon on why he enjoyed directing Route 66 and Naked City01:23
Embedded thumbnail for James Sheldon on directing Clint Eastwood in an episode of West Point, and finding out at an inopportune moment that Eastwood could not ski

James Sheldon on directing Clint Eastwood in an episode of West Point, and finding out at an inopportune moment that Eastwood could not ski

James Sheldon on directing Clint Eastwood in an episode of West Point, and finding out at an inopportune moment that Eastwood could not ski02:40
Embedded thumbnail for James Sheldon on advice to an aspiring director

James Sheldon on advice to an aspiring director

James Sheldon on advice to an aspiring director00:42

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