THIS PAGE IS DEDICATED TO MY FATHER
This picture was taken on his birthday in 1986 when a full page ad was taken in Variety by his family and friends to surprise him.
My dad, Hal Schaffel was a man who was the embodiment of grace and charm. He could gravitate from schmoozing with his teamsters on a production to charming the President of the United States (Kennedy) in the same day and felt equally as comfortable in the company of both. When I was a little boy, and my friends would come over to the house, he would make sure that they felt welcome....they always would say "what a cool dad!" He was friendly, VERY out going, and intelligent beyond belief....I mean this guy could do the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle IN PEN!!!! He credited his intelligence with the fact that he was a voracious reader....sadly, a lost art in this day and age.
Born in his beloved Brooklyn NYC on April 14th, 1914, he went to Boys High School where he was an honor student who wanted to study law. After graduating from Brooklyn Law with honors, he went into practice with his uncle Sydney Silverman.
He left a law practice to go into the Army during WWII and became an intelligence officer, negotiating the treaty that returned Bora Bora to the French after the war (being one of the few Officers who spoke French). After the war, a war buddy (Martin Stone) wrangled him to become a radio producer on WMCA's "Author Meets Critics" and the rest, as they say...is history. Upon his death in 1993, he left many friends, colleagues and two sons who adored him. His like will not be found again personally or professionally. Here is his story.
Hal Schaffel began his career as a lawyer, but decided that show business was his goal and started out as a radio producer in New York City. He produced for Martin Stone Productions, a radio & TV show called "AUTHOR MEETS CRITICS" on WMCA radio. This show was the "Politically Incorrect" of its day.
He then went to work for famed TV game show producer Mark Goodson/Bill Todman and had an idea for a television show...one where people's profession was guessed by a celebrity panel....it was called
"WHAT'S MY LINE"
but never really was given credit for its creation as he was an employee of Goodson at the time.......Goodson or Gil Fates have historically been credited with the show. It was ok with Hal......he knew that the people at the time knew who the idea came from. There are a couple of websites that acknowledge this creation as Hal's.
Hal then went to NBC where he became the Producer of
"THE PATTI PAGE SHOW"
....but his friend Marty Stone asked him to come produce another show with him.....
a little show called
From there, Hal was made the head of business affairs at SCREEN GEMS
(the television arm of Columbia Pictures). After working for a couple of seasons at 711 5th Avenue, the headquarters of Screen Gems, in 1958, Screen Gems asked him to Production Manage their Florida television series "TALLAHASSEE 7000" starring Walter Matthau and DeForest Kelley (of "Star Trek" fame).
This led to him becoming the famed and celebrated location and production manager of the groundbreaking police television series of the 60's, "NAKED CITY."
Paul Burke & Horace McMahon
Hal, Horace McMahon (star of "Naked City") and my mom, Sylvia.
My dad was featured in the 1961
two part series on NAKED CITY done in
Hal would be featured IN the series playing cameos and even as a portrait on the wall.
After "Naked City" was finally cancelled,
he was immediately hired by Herb Brodkin
to be the Unit Production Manager of the
Emmy Award winning television series,
"THE DEFENDERS" for which he was
honored by the Television Academy with a special Emmy for his work on the series and became one of the FIRST "UPM's" in television to be asked to become a DGA member.
Here is E.G. Marshall (star of "The Defenders" and Hal on set):
The rest of the 60's were spent Production Managing television series such as "THE DOCTORS & THE NURSES," (1965-67)
(Zina Bethune and Shirl Conway)
the now cult classic "CORONET BLUE,"(1965)
"FOR THE PEOPLE" (William Shatner's first TV series) (1965)
(William Shatner as ADA David Koster
shown here with co-star Howard
and "HAWK" starring Burt Reyonlds
Hal then began his feature film career with a small film called "THE ANGEL LEVINE" starring Zero Mostel and Harry Belafonte.
But the film that would change Hal's career making him the #1 Unit Production Manager in New York City, came along in 1968 and ended up becoming the most controversial (the FIRST film to be rated "X" by the MPAA) and wonderful Academy Award Winning film....
John Schlesinger (Dir.), Hal and Associate Producer Kenny Utt (my dad's best friend) during "Midnight Cowboy."
This is a shot taken in-between scenes during the filming of "Cowboy."
That is Jon Voight and Sylvia Miles naked. Jon was offered a "cock sock" but thought it was stupid...."just get it over with". This photo has never been published.
Hal actually appeared IN "Midnight Cowboy" as the boyfriend of Sylvia Miles (on the phone..."Maury"). He only appeared in an 8x10 photo by the side of her bed, but it was seen in the film.
Hal moved on to UPM (Unit Production Manager) many other films LIKE:
"HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS" (THE FIRST VAMPIRE TV/FILM CULT CLASSIC IN 1970)
"THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS" (1971)
"THE GANG THAT COULDN'T SHOOT STRAIGHT"(1971)
Writer Israel Horovitz, Irwin Winkler & Hal
"Believe In Me" (1971) MGM
Michael Sarrazin & Jacqueline Bisset
During the filming, they wanted to shoot outside of the famous FILLMORE EAST, but Bill Graham wanted $1000 and they didn't want to pay it, so they said they'd shoot around the theatre.
In response, Graham did this:
and then back to TV as the Unit Production Manager of SHOWS LIKE:
Crawlspace (1972) (TV) (production supervisor)
Rx for the Defense (1973) (TV) (production manager)The Strangers in 7A (1972) (TV) (UPM: New York)
Save the Children (1973) (production manager)
Strike Force (1975) (TV) (production manager)(starring Richard Gere in his first pilot)
AND THEN HAL DID HIS FIRST SHOW OUT OF NYC
"MOVIN'ON" on NBC
(Claude Rains & Frank Converse)
and even a stint on "HAWAII 5-0" for a season (my dad and Jack Lord did NOT get along...which was RARE for my dad...and he used to say, if Jack Lord was walking down one side of the street and Jesus was walking down the other, say HELLO to Jack Lord because Jesus forgives!).
Then moving to Los Angeles in 1976, became the Head Of Production for Viacom Productions, (when Viacom was only a small production entity....now it owns PARAMOUNT...CBS...a GIANT!) and did many TV pilots,
then more films like Barbra Streisand's "THE MAIN EVENT."
In the summer of 1978, Hal Production Managed Frank Sinatra's first TV movie CONTRACT ON CHERRY STREET
and I was the location manager (nothing wrong with nepotism, just so long as you keep it in the family!). CLICK on the picture of Sinatra for a great behind the scenes account of a day on the set with this legend.
After UPM/Producing many television movies for Factor/Newland Productions in the early 80's.
Here he is appearing in one TV movie himself, MARILYN THE UNTOLD STORY, where he played Marilyn Monroe's lawyer Jerry Geisler.
But Hal got an offer he couldn't refuse and became a Production Executive for THE COMPLETION BOND COMPANY later in the 80's.
This was the job Hal did until his death in 1993 and he LOVED his job, overseeing and SAVING many hit films, not the least of which was DANCES WITH WOLVES,which was in big trouble financially until Hal helped first time director Kevin Costner to save the film.
He was what is called in Yiddish...a "Mensch." Loved by all who knew him, very loved by his family.
He really enjoyed using his computer (he had one WAY before I ever did). He would love that he is on the internet.
His filmography can be found at:
HAL WAS VERY PROUD OF HIS FIRST COUSIN, THE AMAZING OPERA SUPERSTAR, BEVERLY SILLS.
THEN...AT HER LAST PERFORMANCE IN 1980
BUBBLES as we called her, died on July 2, 2007
My brother Bob, me, Hal and Sylvia on the way to Europe.
Was I EVER that happy?
Hal lived to tell a joke, or do a rope trick, and was proud of his boys, me and my brother Bob. His loss in 1993 was a huge one for us, but we are also proud to say, that we ARE the sons of Hal Schaffel in every way that is important, and he and my mom Sylvia helped to make us the people we are today.... The menches he wanted us to be.
He had a computer before ANY of us, and would have LOVED having this page.
With love..........your proud son,
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE HAL BEING INTERVIEWED ON MY 1990'S LOS ANGELES CABLE SHOW, "IN THE BIZ"....YOU CAN FIND THE CLIPS ON YOU TUBE BY CLICKING HERE. ENJOY.