Oscar Directors: Schaffner, Franklin, 1920-1989

Schaffner was born on May 30, 1920 in Tokyo, Japan, the son of missionaries Sarah (née Swords) and Paul Franklin Schaffner,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 but his education was interrupted by service with the US Navy in World War II.

Returning home after the war, he found work in the television industry with March of Time and then joined the CBS network. He won directingEmmys 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 picture was The Stripper and he later made The Best ManThe 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 AlexandraPapillonIslands in the Stream and The Boys from Brazil.

Jerry Goldsmith composed the music for seven of his films, including Planet of the ApesPattonPapillonIslands in the Stream and The Boys from Brazil. Four of them were nominated for the Best Original Score Oscar.

Schaffner was President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) from 1987 until his death in 1989.

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.

Critical perception[edit]

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 Leanand Richard Attenborough.[3]


1963 The Stripper

1964 The Best Man

1965 The War Lord

1967 The Double Man

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 the 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 last Academy Award-nominated acting role
1980 Sphinx
1982 Yes, Giorgio 1
1987 Lionheart
1989 Welcome Home