Franklin J. Schaffner

Franklin J. Schaffner
Born Franklin James Schaffner
(1920-05-30)May 30, 1920
Tokyo, Japan
Died July 2, 1989(1989-07-02) (aged 69)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) Helen Jean Gilchrist (1948–89)

Franklin James Schaffner (May 30, 1920  July 2, 1989) was an American film director best known for the films Planet of the Apes (1968), Patton (1970), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Papillon (1973), and The Boys from Brazil (1978).

Early life

(from far left) Stanley O'Toole, Gregory Peck and Franklin J. Schaffner outside Franklin & Marshall College after accepting an honorary degree in 1977.

Schaffner was born in Tokyo, Japan, the son of American missionaries Sarah Horting (née Swords) and Paul Franklin Schaffner,[1][2] 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 in New York City but his education was interrupted by service with the United States Navy in World War II during which he served with American amphibious forces in Europe and North Africa. In the latter stages of the war he was sent to the Pacific Far East to serve with the United States Office for Strategic Services.


Returning home after the war, he found work in the television industry with March of Time and then joined the CBS network. He won directing Emmys 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 motion picture The Stripper was praised, and he later made The Best Man, The 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 Alexandra, Papillon, Islands in the Stream and The Boys from Brazil.

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

Frequent collaborators

Jerry Goldsmith composed the music for seven of his films: The Stripper, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, Islands in the Stream, The Boys from Brazil and Lionheart. Four of them were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score.[3]

Schaffner twice worked with actors Charlton Heston and Maurice Evans (The War Lord; Planet of the Apes), George C. Scott (Patton; Islands in the Stream) and Laurence Olivier (Nicholas and Alexandra; The Boys from Brazil).[4][5][6]

Personal life

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.[7] He was released 10 days before his death from a hospital where he was being treated for lung cancer.

Critical perception

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 Lean and Richard Attenborough.[8]


The moving image collection of Franklin J. Schaffner is held at the Academy Film Archive.[9]


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 final feature film


  2. Jerry Goldsmith awards & nominations Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  3. Pulver, Andrew (24 June 2005). "Monkey business". The Guardian.
  4. Salvato, Larry (2 December 2014). "16 Overlooked Movies From The 1970s That Are Worth Watching". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  5. Vermilye, Jerry (1992). The Complete Films of Laurence Olivier. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806513027.
  6. "Franklin J. Schaffner Dies at 69; An Oscar-Winning Film Director". The New York Times.
  7. John Bradey, "The craft of the screenwriter", 1981. Page 168
  8. "Franklin J. Schaffner". Academy Film Archive.
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