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Former 3-Term Directors Guild of America President Jack Shea Dies in Los Angeles at Age 84

4/29/2013 - 12:02 PM PST

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40 Year Directing Career Spans the Golden Age of Hollywood Sitcoms
3-Term Directors Guild of America Presidency Highlights Include Progress in Contracts, Diversity Hiring & Runaway Production

(Los Angeles, CA (April 29, 2013) -- Jack Shea, 84, former 3-term Directors Guild of America president, 2-time Emmy Award nominee and recipient of the DGA’s prestigious 1992 Robert Aldrich Award, whose 40 year television directing and producing career spanned The Golden Age of Hollywood TV Situation Comedy, died at 12:45 AM on April 28, 2013 of complications from Alzheimer’s in Tarzana, CA, according television screenwriter Patt Shea, his wife of 59 years.

Elected 21st President of the Directors Guild of America in June, 1997, Shea served two and a half terms thru March 9th, 2002 and resigned midway thru his 3rd term following the successful completion of the Guild’s contract negotiations. Under Shea’s watch, the Directors Guild of America took action on runaway production, encouraged diversity in hiring, formed an Independent Directors Committee and negotiated landmark deals, including the historic “blended contract.” One of the original organizers and a past president of the Radio and Television Directors Guild (RTDG), the precursor to the DGA, Shea encouraged the merger of the RTDG with the Screen Directors Guild in 1960 to form the DGA. In 1992,

Shea was awarded the DGA’s prestigious Robert Aldrich Award for “40 years of extraordinary service.”

Shea’s television directing career, in which he moved effortlessly from comedy to drama, spanned four decades -- from the 1950’s thru the late 1990’s -- and included directing and/or producing multiple episodes of most of the major network situation comedies and dramas of that era including: “The Jeffersons” (110 Ep.); “Silver Spoons” (91 Ep.); “The Ropers” (22 Ep.); “Sanford & Son” (15 Ep.); “Designing Women” (14 Ep., one of which garnered Shea an Emmy nomination); “The Charmings” (13 Ep.); ”Growing Pains” (6 Ep.); The Waltons (8 Ep.) as well as multiple episodes of “Valerie’s Family,” “The Royal Family,” “The Golden Girls,” “Punky Brewster” and “Full House,” among many other television comedy and drama series. Shea also had an enduring professional relationship with Bob Hope, directing many holiday and comedy specials from 1956-66, including many specials taped overseas.

A life-long Catholic, Shea was a co-founder, with his wife Patt Shea and other prominent Catholics in the Hollywood entertainment community, of the Hollywood-based Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA), which he was also past president of. Jack and Patt Shea jointly received the CIMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 from the Hollywood-based organization of entertainment industry professionals which celebrated its 20th anniversary in April, 2013. Shea was also a former member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Communications.

Shea’s commitment and dedication to the Directors Guild of America led him to serve for 35 years on the Western Directors Council and National Board, as chair of the Negotiating Committee, multiple terms as various Guild officers including DGA vice president, secretary, and as a member of numerous other DGA committees. The pinnacle of Shea’s service came as DGA president from 1997-2002 when he tackled several issues that remain Guild priorities today including runaway production, diversity hiring and building a unified guild led by working members.

Born August 1, 1928 in New York City, NY, John Francis “Jack” Shea, Jr. grew up in Manhattan, attending Regis High School and Fordham University, where he graduated with a BA in History in 1950. That same year, Shea began his television career working as a stage manager at NBC / New York, working on Philco Playhouse, among other programs.

Shea served two years in the US Air Force (1952-54) during the Korean War, stationed in Los Angeles as a television and motion picture director producing educational films. In 1954, within months of his return to NBC, Shea helped his co-workers organize the Radio and Television Directors Guild (RTDG). Within a year, they had achieved a union shop where anyone on the directorial staff could join the new guild for a $50 initiation fee. Subsequently, NBC offered him a job in its Hollywood studio. Shea was one of the few leaders of the relatively small, New York-based RTDG working in Los Angeles and Shea became president of RTDG’s Hollywood local in 1958, holding that post until 1960 when the RTDG and the Screen Directors Guild (SDG) merged to form the DGA.

While at NBC in Burbank, Shea made the leap from stage manager to associate director on "The Bob Hope Show." His first directing job came at the age of 27, when he was asked to fill in for an ailing director of the prime-time game show "Truth or Consequences." As a director at NBC, Shea helmed episodes of "The ...

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