Jack Shea Dies: ‘The Jeffersons’ Director, Directors Guild President
Jack Shea Dies: ‘The Jeffersons’ Director, Directors Guild President

Jack Shea dies: Hollywood veteran Jack Shea had a hand in many popular sitcoms: The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Silver Spoons, The Waltons, The Golden Girls, and more. He died at the age of 84 on April 28.

Jack Shea championed minority hiring and American production. He sought to ensure television shows and films expressing spiritual values got recognition in the industry. He showed Sherman Hemsley, who played George Jefferson on The Jeffersons how to do the “George walk.”

“I didn’t do it as well as he did and I wasn’t nearly as funny, that’s why he got a lot more money,” Shea said in a four-and-a-half-hour interview with Archive of American Television’s Jennifer Howard in 2002.

Shea’s death was the result of complications related to Alzheimer’s disease, a family spokesman told the L.A. Times. Shea was the president of the Directors Guild of America from 1997 to 2002. In 1992, he won a Directors Guild award for “40 years of extraordinary service.”

He explained to Howard how he viewed a director’s role: “The director is the leader. Sometimes you do it with comedy or laughs or jokes … sometimes you really just have to take command.”

“That’s not the pleasant way to do it,” he added.

He spoke about his work with Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue Clanahan, and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls. “They were funny people, they loved to do what they did.”

He called them jokingly, “a kick in the head.”

Of Leonardo DiCaprio, whom he saw as an industry new-comer when he worked on Growing Pains, Shea said: “He was just a new-coming, he was one of those kids they brought in.” Shea said DiCaprio was very good then, and it was amazing to see how famous he became.

Shea and his wife, Patt, who was a screenwriter for All in the Family and other programs, were founding members of the Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA). The first annual CIMA Awards were inaugurated in 1993 to award productions with spiritual value.

Shea was a native New Yorker, but moved to Los Angeles in 1952. He is survived by his wife, three sons, and six grandchildren. His daughter preceded him in death.

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