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Jack Shea Dies: Legendary Director of TV Sitcoms Was 84

Image: Jack Shea Dies: Legendary Director of TV Sitcoms Was 84

By Michael Mullins   |   Tuesday, 30 Apr 2013 09:15 AM

Jack Shea, legendary television director and former president of the Directors Guild of America, died Sunday at a care facility in Tarzana, Calif. He was 84.

Shea's death was attributed to complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to his wife of 59 years, television screenwriter Patt Shea.

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During his extensive Hollywood career, Shea directed numerous episodes of such famous 1970s and 1980s sitcoms as "The Jeffersons," "The Waltons," "Sanford and Son," "Silver Spoons," "Growing Pains," and "Designing Women."

Shea also directed 10 Bob Hope overseas Christmas specials, often rehearsing aboard  airplanes with exuberant casts as they traveled to U.S. military posts around the world, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Shea was elected president of the Directors Guild of America in 1997 where he pushed for more minority hiring and local production, arguing for a greater diversity in television and warning of the "grave threat" of entertainment industry jobs leaving the United States, reported the Times. He stepped down in 2002.

"Beloved by his fellow directors, the DGA membership and the DGA staff, [Shea] always had a ready smile and keen interest in everyone he encountered," said current president Taylor Hackford. "Jack enjoyed life and shared it with everyone around him; as a leader, his gentle manner and the kindest of hearts will be the things we miss the most."

Shea was also spiritual, having held senior leadership positions in various Catholic organizations throughout his life. In 1992, he and his wife helped form Catholics in Media Associates, an advocacy group that promotes films and TV shows that exhibit spiritual values.

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In a 2002 interview with the National Catholic Reporter, when asked why he decided to pursue a career in Hollywood, Shea said, "I didn't see how they got any work done. I decided California was for me."

Shea received his first chance behind the camera as a 27-year-old novice when he was asked to fill in suddenly when the director of the game show "Truth or Consequences" called in sick, reported the Times.

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