Director James Sheldon’s Archive of American Television Interview is now online.
In part 4 of his interview, Sheldon talks about working with James Dean in “live” television. James Dean appeared in about twenty television productions in the early 1950s before embarking on his feature film career.
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James Sheldon directed one of the quintessential episodes of the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone— “It’s A Good Life,” in which a boy (played by Billy Mumy) holds an entire town in fear demanding that they think “good thoughts” or face his wrath. As Rod Serling describes in his introduction to the episode: “….Oh yes, I did forget something, didn’t I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He’s six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you’d better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone.” Sheldon discusses “It’s A Good Life” and the other five episodes of The Twilight Zone he directed in Part 5 and Part 6 of his interview.
James Sheldon was interviewed for over three hours in New York, NY. He spoke about breaking into the business as an NBC page, and after a few years in advertising, turning his attentions to directing for television. He described his work on several shows from the 1950s including such diverse fare as: sitcom Mr. Peepers, daytime variety series The Eddie Albert Show, military anthology West Point Story, and drama The Millionaire. He also spoke in great detail about working with then-budding actor James Dean in two “live” television productions of Armstrong Circle Theater and Robert Montgomery Presents. He discussed his work on the anthology series The Twilight Zone, for which he directed such classic episodes as “It’s A Good Life” starring Billy Mumy. Other series he discussed included Family Affair and My Three Sons. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on April 6, 2005.