Franklin J. Schaffner
Schaffner in 1977
Franklin James Schaffner

(1920-05-30)May 30, 1920
Tokyo, Japan
DiedJuly 2, 1989(1989-07-02) (aged 69)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Alma materFranklin & Marshall College Columbia University Law School
OccupationFilm director
TitlePresident of the Directors Guild of America, 1987–89
SpouseHelen Jean Gilchrist (1948–89) (died 2007)
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Director; 1971 Patton
Primetime Emmy Award for Best Direction; 1955 Studio One, 1955 Ford Star Jubilee, 1962 The Defenders
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Office of Strategic Services

Franklin James Schaffner (May 30, 1920 – July 2, 1989) was an American film, television, and stage director. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for Patton (1970), and is known for the films Planet of the Apes (1968), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Papillon (1973), and The Boys from Brazil (1978). He served as president of the Directors Guild of America between 1987 and 1989.

Early life

(from far left) Stanley O'Toole, Gregory Peck and Franklin J. Schaffner outside Franklin & Marshall College after accepting an honorary degree in 1977

Schaffner was born in Tokyo, Japan, the son of American missionaries Sarah Horting (née Swords) and Paul Franklin Schaffner,[1][2] and was raised in Japan.

The Schaffners returned to the United States and settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when Franklin Schaffner was 5 years old.[3][4] Franklin Schaffner attended J.P. McCaskey High School, where he appeared as Mr. Darcy in the school's production of Pride and Prejudice.[3] In 1938, he graduated as valedictorian of McCaskey High School's first graduating class.[3][4]

Schaffner graduated from Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) in Lancaster.[3] As a student, Schaffner was active in the drama program at F&M's Green Room Theatre, where he appeared in eleven plays and served as president of the Green Room Club.[3] He then studied law at Columbia University in New York City, but his education was interrupted by service with the U.S. Navy in World War II during which he served with amphibious forces in Europe and North Africa. In the latter stages of the war, he was sent to the Pacific Far East to serve with the Office of Strategic Services.[5]

Television career

Schaffner returned to the United States after the war. He worked for a world peace organization, then as an assistant director for the documentary film series The March of Time. He became a director in the news and public affairs department of CBS television, where his jobs including covering sports, beauty pageants and public-service programs.[6]

In 1950 he directed "The Traitor", the first episode of Ford Theatre.[7] He also did adaptations of Alice in Wonderland[8] and Treasure Island.[9]

He directed "Thunder on Sycamore Street" by Reginald Rose for Studio One.[10] He and Rose reunited on Twelve Angry Men which won Schaffner an Emmy for Best Director.

The following year Schaffner earned another Emmy for his work on the 1955 TV adaptation of the Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, shown on the anthology series Ford Star Jubilee.[11]

Schaffner became one of three regular directors on the Kaiser Aluminium Hour; the others were George Roy Hill and Fielder Cook.[12] He was also a regular director on Playhouse 90.[13]

He was the original director on the series, The Defenders, created by Rose. Schaffner's work earned him another Emmy.[14]

In 1960, he directed Allen Drury's stage play Advise and Consent. This earned him the Best Director recognition in the Variety Critics Poll.[15]

In the realm of network television, Schaffner also received widespread critical acclaim in 1962 for his groundbreaking collaboration with the First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Kennedy and CBS television's Musical Director Alfredo Antonini in the production of A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy, a television special broadcast to over 80 million viewers worldwide.[16]

Schaffner's contributions in this production earned him a nomination in 1963 by the Directors Guild of America, for its award in the category of Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television.[17]

Feature films

Early films

In January 1960 Schaffner signed a multi picture deal with Columbia Pictures.[18]

In May 1961 he signed to make A Summer Place at 20th Century Fox with Fabian and Dolores Hart.[19] The film was not made. Schaffner directed The Good Years (1962) for TV with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.[20] Other TV work included The Great American Robbery.[21]

Instead Schaffner's first motion picture was The Stripper (1963), made at Fox from a play by William Inge, starring Richard Beymer and Joanne Woodward. The film was well-received critically, but not a commercial success.

He continued to work for TV including The Legend of Lylah Clare.[22]

Schaffner later made The Best Man (1964) based on a play by Gore Vidal and The War Lord (1965), based on a play by Leslie Stevens, with Charlton Heston. In a 1966 interview he said "as you mature you learn that the story is the most important thing."[23] He announced various films for Columbia - The Day Lincoln Was Shot, The Whistle Blows for Victory and The Green Beret - but they were not made.[24]

He went to Britain to make The Double Man (1967) with Yul Brynner, a film Schaffner admitted he did for the money.[25]


Schaffner had a huge critical and commercial hit in Planet of the Apes (1968) starring Heston at 20th Century Fox.

In December 1968 Schaffner signed a non-exclusive three-picture deal with Columbia.[26]

His next film was for 20th Century Fox, however: Patton (1970), a biopic of General Patton starring George C. Scott. It was a major success for which Schaffner won the Academy Award for Best Director and the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director.

He made Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) for producer Sam Spiegel. It was an expensive box-office failure. Schaffner followed it with Papillon (1973) a $14 million epic with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman that was a considerable financial success.[27] In 1971 he said his films "are almost always about people who are out of their time and place."[28]

Schaffner intended to follow Papillon with Dynasty of Western Outlaws, about outlaws over the years in Missouri from a script by John Gay, and an adaptation of The French Lieutenant's Woman.[28] He ended up making neither: Dynasty was never made, and French Lieutenant was made a decade later by another director.

Schaffner reunited with George C. Scott in Islands in the Stream (1977), based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway.[29] He then did The Boys from Brazil (1978) based on a novel by Ira Levin with Gregory Peck.

Later work

His later films included Sphinx (1981), a $10 million thriller about Egypt based on a novel by Robin Cook and produced by Stanley O'Toole, who had made Boys from Brazil with Schaffner.[30] It was a commercial and critical failure, as was Yes, Giorgio (1982), a musical comedy starring Luciano Pavarotti.

Schaffner's last films were the critically well-received Lionheart (1987) and Welcome Home (1989).

Schaffner was president of the Directors Guild of America from 1987 until his death in 1989.

Frequent collaborators

Jerry Goldsmith composed the music for seven of his films: The Stripper, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, Islands in the Stream, The Boys from Brazil and Lionheart. Four of them were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score.[31]

Schaffner twice worked with actors Charlton Heston and Maurice Evans (The War Lord; Planet of the Apes), George C. Scott (Patton; Islands in the Stream) and Laurence Olivier (Nicholas and Alexandra; The Boys from Brazil).[32][33][34]

Personal life

Schaffner married Helen Jean Gilchrist in 1948. The couple had two children, Jennie and Kate. She died in 2007.

Schaffner died on July 2, 1989, at the age of 69.[35] He was released 10 days before his death from a hospital where he was being treated for lung cancer.

Critical perception

Screenwriter William Goldman identified Schaffner in 1981 as being one of the three best directors (then living) at handling "scope" (a gift for screen epics) in films. The other two were David Lean and Richard Attenborough.[36]


In 1991, Schaffner's widow, Jean Schaffner, established the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal (colloquially known as the Franklin J. Schaffner Award), which is awarded by the American Film Institute at its annual ceremony to an alumnus of either the AFI Conservatory or the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women who best embodies the qualities of the late director: talent, taste, dedication and commitment to quality filmmaking.[3] Notable recipients include David Lynch, Amy Heckerling, Terence Malick, Darren Aronofsky, Patty Jenkins and Paul Schrader, among others.[37]

The Directors Guild of America also began presenting a Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award to associate directors or stage managers in 1991.[38]

The moving image collection of Franklin J. Schaffner is held at the Academy Film Archive.[39]

In May 2020, the mayor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, proclaimed Franklin Schaffner Week (May 23–30, 2020) to mark the centennial of his birth.[3][4]



Year Title Academy Awards Golden Globe Awards BAFTA Awards Notes
Noms. Wins Noms. Wins Noms. Wins
1952 The Wings of the Dove
1963 The Stripper 1
1964 The Best Man 1 2
1965 The War Lord
1967 The Double Man
1968 Planet of the Apes 2 1
1970 Patton 10 7 2 1 2 Also producer
1971 Nicholas and Alexandra 6 2 3 3
1973 Papillon 1 1 Also producer
1976 Islands in the Stream 1
1978 The Boys from Brazil 3 1
1981 Sphinx Also executive producer
1982 Yes, Giorgio 1 1
1987 Lionheart
1989 Welcome Home Posthumous release
Total 26 10 10 1 5 0


Year Title Emmy Awards Golden Globe Awards Notes
Noms. Wins Noms. Wins
1948-51 The Ford Theatre Hour 22 episodes
1949 Wesley 13 episodes
1949-56 Studio One 12 5 110 episodes
1951 Tales of Tomorrow 5 episodes
1953-59 Person to Person 6 248 episodes
1955 The Best of Broadway 1 1 episode
1955-56 Ford Star Jubilee 4 3 2 episodes
1956-57 The Kaiser Aluminum Hour 1 6 episodes
1957 Producers' Showcase 13 7 1 episode
1957-60 Playhouse 90 34 13 1 19 episodes
1959 Startime 5 1 1 episode
1961 Cry Vengeance! Television film
1961-62 The Defenders 8 14 2 1 6 episodes
1962 The Good Years Television film
A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy Documentary special
1962-64 The DuPont Show of the Week 8 10 episodes
1964 Ambassador at Large Television film
1966 One-Eyed Jacks Are Wild
1967 ABC Stage 67 4 2 1 episode
Total 96 45 2 2

Awards and nominations

Year Award/Association Category Work Episode Result
1955 Primetime Emmy Award Best Direction Studio One "Twelve Angry Men" Won
1956 Ford Star Jubilee "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" Won
Best Television Adaptation Won
1961 Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television Playhouse 90 "The Cruel Day" Nominated
1962 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama The Defenders Various Won
1963 Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy Nominated
1964 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Crystal Globe The Best Man Nominated
Special Jury Prize Won
1971 Academy Awards Best Director Patton Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Director Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Won
1979 Saturn Awards Best Director The Boys from Brazil Nominated
2008 Jules Verne Award Légendaire Award Planet of the Apes Won


  1. ^ "Franklin J. Schaffner".
  2. ^ Kim, Erwin (1985). Franklin J. Schaffner. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810817999.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Reinert, Jed (2020-05-28). "From McCaskey to F&M; to Hollywood: The saga of Oscar-winning director Franklin Schaffner". LNP. Archived from the original on 2020-07-03. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  4. ^ a b c Wright, Mary Ellen (2020-05-30). "From McCaskey to F&M; to Hollywood: The saga of Oscar-winning director Franklin Schaffner". LNP. Archived from the original on 2020-06-18. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  5. ^ Oscar-Winning Film Director Franklin J. Schaffner Dies: [FINAL Edition] The Washington Post 4 July 1989: b06.
  6. ^ Franklin J. Schaffner Dies at 69; An Oscar-Winning Film Director: [Obituary] Morgan, Thomas. New York Times3 July 1989: 1.11.
  7. ^ A MODERN TOWN-CRIER: FORD THEATRE'S FIRST SHOW New York Times 3 Sep 1950: 49.
  8. ^ SHOW ILLUSTRATES DRAMA IN THE NEWS: 'Hear It Now,' Tape-Recorded by Murrow and Friendly, Makes Debut on C.B.S. Radio "Alice in Wonderland" on TV New York Times 16 Dec 1950: 15.
  9. ^ TREASURE ISLAND': Video Version of Stevenson's Classic Is Presented by 'Studio One' By JACK GOULD. New York Times 11 May 1952: X11.
  10. ^ Television in Review: Reginald Rose Play on 'Studio One' Protests Credo of Conformity By JACK GOULD. New York Times 19 Mar 1954: 30.
  11. ^ The Caine Mutiny Court Martial': Cameras Add Power to Play by Wouk Nolan Repeats Study of Captain Queeg, By JACK GOULD. New York Times ]21 Nov 1955: 55.
  12. ^ MINER WILL LEAVE TV DRAMA SERIES: Producer Resigns 'Kaiser Hour' Post--Ferrer to Be 'Festival of Music' Host By VAL ADAMS. New York Times 26 Nov 1956: 55.
  13. ^ FOUR WILL CO-STAR ON 'PLAYHOUSE 90': Randall, Misses Neal, Foch and Dunnock in 'Playroom' --Plans for Nanette Fabray, Special to The New York Times. 21 Sep 1957: 39
  14. ^ THE TV SCENE---: Another Writer Turns to Series, Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times 24 Feb 1960: A10.
  15. ^ Theatre: Political Issues: 'Advise and Consent' Opens at the Cort By HOWARD TAUBMAN. New York Times ]18 Nov 1960: 25.
  16. ^ "A Tour of the White House (TV Movie 1962)". IMDb.
  17. ^ "A Tour of the White House - IMDb" – via
  18. ^ MITCHUM GETS ROLE IN 'GRASS IS GREENER', New York Times 14 Jan 1960: 31.
  19. ^ TV Ace With 20th; Vallee Goes Legit: Movies for Children Listed; Debbie May Play Ruth Roland Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 12 May 1961: A11.
  20. ^ TV: 'The Good Years': Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda and Mort Sahl Star in Presentation on Channel 2 By JACK GOULD. New York Times 13 Jan 1962: 47.
  21. ^ THE GREAT ROBBERY Page, Don. Los Angeles Times 29 Apr 1962: B2.
  22. ^ THE TV SCENE: 'Show of Week' Modem 'Dybbuk' Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times 17 May 1963: C12.
  23. ^ Schaffner: TV to Big Screen Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 17 Mar 1966: d17.
  24. ^ Schaffner Whistles for Sean Connery: Readers on Flint vs. Bond; Movie Music Goes on Block Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 11 Feb 1965: D11.
  25. ^ Balancing Act Pays Off for 'Patton' Director: Incomplete Source Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 7 May 1970: h1.
  26. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Pat Suzuki Signs for Role Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 20 Dec 1968: f22.
  27. ^ Schaffner Has His Fingers Crossed: Schaffner's Fingers Crossed HOFFERKAMP, JACK. Los Angeles Times 4 Jan 1974: d16.
  28. ^ a b McQueen -- The Man Who Got Away By A.H. WEILER. New York Times 26 Dec 1971: D15.
  29. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: The Reteaming of Scott and Schaffner Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 20 Mar 1975: i16.
  30. ^ FILM MAKING IN PHARAOH LAND: TUT, TUT: FILM MAKING IN PHARAOH LAND Hall, William. Los Angeles Times (11 May 1980: u6.
  31. ^ Jerry Goldsmith awards & nominations Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  32. ^ Pulver, Andrew (24 June 2005). "Monkey business". The Guardian.
  33. ^ Salvato, Larry (2 December 2014). "16 Overlooked Movies From The 1970s That Are Worth Watching". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  34. ^ Vermilye, Jerry (1992). The Complete Films of Laurence Olivier. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806513027.
  35. ^ Morgan, Thomas (3 July 1989). "Franklin J. Schaffner Dies at 69; An Oscar-Winning Film Director". The New York Times.
  36. ^ John Bradey, "The craft of the screenwriter", 1981. Page 168
  37. ^ "Franklin J. Schaffner Award | AFI CONSERVATORY". Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  38. ^ "Duncan Henderson and Arthur Lewis to be Honored For Guild Service and Career Achievement at the 72nd Annual DGA Awards -". Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  39. ^ "Franklin J. Schaffner". Academy Film Archive. 19 December 2014.