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Shea worked behind the scenes in television, at first as a stage manager. While working on the set of Truth or Consequences in 1955, the director called in sick. Shea, then 27, was tapped to take over; he was terrified, but apparently did well: he soon became a sought-after director, particularly for comedies. Among other shows, he directed episodes of Silver Spoons, Sanford and Son, Designing Women, Growing Pains, and The Waltons And he was so adept at directing The Jeffersons (110 episodes) that he sometimes had to remind star Sherman Hemsley how to do “the George walk” — the character’s trademark strut. “I didn’t do it as well as he did,” Shea said, “but that’s why he made a lot more money.” Shea also directed 10 Bob Hope Christmas specials, and had to travel with Hope’s troupe as it flew between shows they were putting on at overseas military bases so they could rehearse on the plane. The frightened first-timer director rose to become the president of the Directors Guild of America, serving for five years. During that time, he encouraged racial diversity in his profession, and warned of the danger of pushing film production overseas. Shea died April 28 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 84.
From This is True for 28 April 2013
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