George Schaefer

Director, Producer
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 ... Read more »
Born: 12/15/1920 in Wallingford, Connecticut, USA

Filmography

Director (51)

Harvey 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Director

Let Me Hear You Whisper 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Director

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Director

The Bunker 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Director

Barry Manilow -- One Voice 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Director

Mayflower: The Pilgrim's Adventure 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Director

Who'll Save Our Children? 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Director

The Girl Called Hatter Fox 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Director

The Second Barry Manilow Special 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Director

An Enemy of the People 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

Our Town 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Director

Truman at Potsdam 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Director

Once Upon a Scoundrel 1972 (Movie)

(Director)

Doctors' Wives 1971 (Movie)

(Director)

Gideon 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Director

The File on Devlin 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Director

Generation 1969 (Movie)

(Director)

Pendulum 1968 (Movie)

(Director)

Anastasia 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Director

Inherit the Wind 1965 - 1966 (TV Show)

Director

Little Moon of Alban 1963 - 1964 (TV Show)

Director

The Patriots 1963 - 1964 (TV Show)

Director

Macbeth 1960 - 1961 (TV Show)

Director

Ah, Wilderness! 1958 - 1959 (TV Show)

Director

Berkeley Square 1958 - 1959 (TV Show)

Director

Johnny Belinda 1958 - 1959 (TV Show)

Director

Little Moon of Alban 1957 - 1958 (TV Show)

Director

The Lark 1956 - 1957 (TV Show)

Director

Alice in Wonderland 1955 - 1956 (TV Show)

Director

The Good Fairy 1955 - 1956 (TV Show)

Director

Macbeth 1954 - 1955 (TV Show)

Director

Hamlet 1952 - 1953 (TV Show)

Director

A Doll's House (TV Show)

Director

A Piano For Mrs. Cimino (TV Show)

Director

A War of Children (TV Show)

Director

Amelia Earhart (TV Show)

Director

Children in the Crossfire (TV Show)

Director

Deadly Game (TV Show)

Director

First You Cry (TV Show)

Director

Give Us Barabbas! (TV Show)

Director

In This House of Brede (TV Show)

Director

Land of Hope (TV Show)

Director

Laura Lansing Slept Here (TV Show)

Director

Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry (TV Show)

Director

Right of Way (TV Show)

Director

Stone Pillow (TV Show)

Director

The Admirable Crichton (TV Show)

Director

The Booth (TV Show)

Director

The Invincible Mr. Disraeli (TV Show)

Director

The Man Upstairs (TV Show)

Director
Producer (7)

An Enemy of the People 1977 (Movie)

(Producer)

Love Story 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Producer

Hamlet 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Producer

Alcoa Premiere 1961 - 1963 (TV Show)

Producer

Blind Ambition (TV Show)

Producer

People vs. Jean Harris (TV Show)

Producer

Sandburg's Lincoln (TV Show)

Producer
Actor (2)

Jimmy Stewart: Hometown Hero 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Television Makers 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor
Other (1)

Bloodfist II 1990 (Movie)

standards and practices (Other)

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.

Relationships

Elise Schaefer

Mother

Louis Schaefer

Father

Louis Schaefer

Brother
survived him

William Schaefer

Brother
survived him

Mildred Trares

Wife
married 1954 until his death in 1997

EDUCATION

Lafayette College

Easton , Pennsylvania

School of Drama, Yale University

New Haven , Connecticut
left when drafted

Milestones

1997

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

1992

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

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

1982

Formed Shaefer/Karpf Productions with Merrill H Karpf

1980

Staged Los Angeles production of "On Golden Pond"

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

1972

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

1968

Helmed the feature "Pendulum"

1963

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

1959

Beacame president of Compass Productions

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

1954

Staged London production of "Teahouse of the August Moon"

1953

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

1953

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

1947

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

1944

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

1941

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

1937

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

Was artistic director of NYC's City Center Theatre

Directed productions at the State Fair Music Hall in Dallas, Texas

Served as executive producer of "Love Story", an anthology series that aired on NBC

While in high school, formed theater troupe, The Pastime Players in Oak Park, Illinois

Bonus Trivia

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

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