Former president of the Directors Guild of America Jack Shea passed away Sunday at the age of 84. Shea’s credits included such series as The Waltons (1972-1975), Sanford and Son (1972-1974) and The Jeffersons (1975-1979), as well as several Bob Hope specials.
Shea served in the Motion Picture and Television Unit of the Air Force during the Korean War. After his service, he worked in television as an assistant director and pursued a career in directing.
Shea was a member of the Directors Guild of America for over half a century. He was president of the Hollywood local of the Radio and Television Directors Guild when it merged with the Screen Directors Guild in 1960. Following the merger, he was elected to the DGA’s national board, where he served for more than 35 years. Shea held various positions on the board including one term as vice president, two terms as secretary and multiple terms as a board officer before serving as DGA president from 1997-2002.
During his presidency, he successfully spearheaded the “Work in Trade” amendment to the guild’s constitution, led the efforts to bring greater unity throughout the guild and shepherded the renovation of the guild’s New York building.
He was also a long-time presence on the Western Directors Council and served on numerous committees, including the negotiations committee, which he chaired in 1996, as well as the residency committee, the organizing committee and the New York theatre committee. He also chaired the DGA Foundation and the DGA Awards dinner. In 1992, Shea was honored with the Robert B. Aldrich Award for extraordinary service to the DGA and its membership.
“Jack Shea occupied a truly unique position in the history of the modern DGA,” said DGA president Taylor Hackford. “As the West Coast president of the Radio & Television Directors Guild in 1960, he was at the table sitting across from Frank Capra when the two guilds representing television and theatrical directors merged to form the modern Directors Guild of America. Beloved by his fellow directors, the DGA membership and the DGA staff, he always had a ready smile and keen interest in everyone he encountered. 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.”
“Jack was a tremendous president – a unifying force and a dedicated leader,” said DGA national executive director Jay Roth. “He truly loved the DGA and spent nearly 50 years in its service, working all the while to bring other members – women, minorities and members of the directorial team – into guild service. Jack, who was originally from New York, worked tirelessly to strengthen the bonds between the Guild’s East Coast and West Coast members. He passionately believed that the most important thing he could do was to ensure that the Guild remained unified and that it remained in the hands of its actively working members – goals he emphasized during his presidency and underscored throughout his service. We worked together as partners for years and some of my fondest memories are the many hours we spent discussing how we could continue to strengthen and fortify his beloved guild. I will miss him greatly.”