As reported by The New York Times, prolific TV director James Sheldon has died. Tony Sheldon, his son, says that he died from “complications of cancer” at his home in Manhattan. He was 95.
Born Leonard James Schleifer in 1920 (he changed his name to something less German-sounding in the ‘40s), Sheldon actually got his start in TV before TV was even a thing, working as an NBC page at first and then climbing the ranks to become a real tour guide when the network was still focused on radio. By the ‘50s, he had worked his way up to his first directing gig, which was for 10 episodes of the comedy series Mister Peepers.
From that point, Sheldon would go on to direct episodes of over 100 different shows, with Variety saying that he once estimated he had directed “about 1,200 episodes of television” over the course of his career. Those 1,200 episodes include a few from The Twilight Zone ( like “I Sing The Body Electric,” “It’s A Good Life,” and “A Penny For Your Thoughts”), 44 episodes of The Millionaire, and a handful from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Petticoat Junction, The Fugitive, My Three Sons, Sanford And Son, and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color. His final directing job was for an episode of Sledge Hammer! in 1986.
Sheldon is survived by his two sons and three grandsons.