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Franklin J. Schaffner
Born Franklin James Schaffner
May 30, 1920(1920-05-30)
Tokyo, Japan
Died July 2, 1989 (aged 69)
Santa Monica, California, USA
Spouse(s) Helen Jean Gilchrist (1948-1989)

Franklin James Schaffner (May 30, 1920 - July 2, 1989) was an American film director.


Early life

The son of missionaries, Schaffner was born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in that country. He returned to the United States and graduated from Franklin and 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 1960, he directed Allen Drury's stage play Advise and Consent. His first Hollywood motion picture was praised and he directed the influential hit Planet of the Apes. His next film, Patton was a major success for which he won the Academy Award for Directing and the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures. Jerry Goldsmith composed the scores for a number of his later films, including Planet of the Apes, Papillon and The Boys from Brazil.

Schaffner was elected President of the Directors Guild of America in 1987.

Personal life

Schaffner married Helen Jane Gilchrist in 1948. The couple had two children, Jennie and Kate.

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

Critical perception

Screenwriter William Goldman identified Schaffner in 1981 as being one of the three best directors (then living) at handling 'scope' (epicness) in films. The other two were David Lean and Richard Attenborough.[1]


Year Film Academy Award Wins Academy Award Nominations Notes
1963 The Stripper 1 feature film debut
1964 The Best Man 1 film adapted from a stage play by Gore Vidal
1965 The War Lord
1967 The Double Man
1968 Planet of the Apes 1 2 film won an Honorary Academy Award
1970 Patton 7 10 won Academy Award for Best Director and Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director
1971 Nicholas and Alexandra 2 6
1973 Papillon 1
1976 Islands in the Stream 1
1978 The Boys from Brazil 3 film stars Laurence Olivier in his final Academy Award-nominated acting role
1980 Sphinx
1982 Yes, Giorgio 1
1987 Lionheart
1989 Welcome Home final feature film


  1. ^ John Bradey, "The craft of the screenwriter", 1981. Page 168

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