Franklin J. Schaffner

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 also 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.

Franklin J. Schaffner
Schaffner in 1977
Franklin James Schaffner

(1920-05-30)May 30, 1920
DiedJuly 2, 1989(1989-07-02) (aged 69)
OccupationFilm director
TitlePresident of the Directors Guild of America, 1987-89
Spouse(s)Helen 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

Early life

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. He returned to the United States and graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he was active in drama. He studied law at Columbia University in New York City but his education was interrupted by service with the United States Navy in World War II during which he served with American 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 United States Office for Strategic Services.


Returning home after the war, he found work in the television industry with March of Time and then joined the CBS network. He won directing Emmys for his work on the original 1954 CBS teleplay, Twelve Angry Men. Schaffner earned two more Emmy awards 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. He won his fourth Emmy Award for his work on the series, The Defenders.

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 which was broadcast to over 80 million viewers worldwide.[3] Schaffner's contributions in this production earned him a nomination in 1963 by the Director's Guild of America USA, for its award in the category of Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television.[4]

In 1960, he directed Allen Drury's stage play Advise and Consent. His first motion picture The Stripper was praised, and he later made The Best Man, The War Lord, and The Double Man. They were followed by the critical and commercial hit Planet of the Apes. His next film, Patton was a major success for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director and the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director. Later works included Nicholas and Alexandra, Papillon, Islands in the Stream and The Boys from Brazil.

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.[5]

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).[6][7][8]

Personal life

Schaffner married Helen Jane Gilchrist in 1948. The couple had two children, Jennie and Kate. She died in 2007.[9]

Schaffner died on July 2, 1989, at the age of 69.[10] 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.[11]

In 1991 Schaffner's widow Jean 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.[12]


The moving image collection of Franklin J. Schaffner is held at the Academy Film Archive.[13]



Year Title Academy Awards Golden Globe Awards BAFTA Awards Notes
Noms. Wins Noms. Wins Noms. Wins
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
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

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 N/A Nominated
1964 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Crystal Globe The Best Man N/A Nominated
Special Jury Prize N/A Won
1971 Academy Awards Best Director Patton N/A Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Director N/A Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures N/A Won
1979 Saturn Awards Best Director The Boys from Brazil N/A Nominated
2008 Jules Verne Award Légendaire Award Planet of the Apes N/A Won


  1. "Franklin J. Schaffner".
  2. Kim, Erwin (1985). Franklin J. Schaffner. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810817999.
  5. Jerry Goldsmith awards & nominations Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  6. Pulver, Andrew (24 June 2005). "Monkey business". The Guardian.
  7. Salvato, Larry (2 December 2014). "16 Overlooked Movies From The 1970s That Are Worth Watching". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  8. Vermilye, Jerry (1992). The Complete Films of Laurence Olivier. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806513027.
  9. "Find a Grave".
  10. "Franklin J. Schaffner Dies at 69; An Oscar-Winning Film Director". The New York Times.
  11. John Bradey, "The craft of the screenwriter", 1981. Page 168
  13. "Franklin J. Schaffner". Academy Film Archive.
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