James Sheldon, Pioneering and Prolific TV Director, Dies at 95

He began his career as an NBC page in the radio age and directed episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” “The Fugitive,” “M*A*S*H” and more

Prolific director James Sheldon, who worked on “The Twilight Zone,” “The Fugitive” and “Perry Mason” among scores of other classic TV shows, is dead. He was 95.

He died in Manhattan of complications from cancer, his son Tony told The New York Times.

His first show business job was as a page at NBC in the early 1940s, when the network specialized in radio, but TV was Sheldon’s oeuvre. He didn’t work on a single feature film but estimated that he had directed about 1,200 hours of TV during his career. He got started early and directed episodes of “The Bing Crosby Show,” “Death Valley Days” and “We, The People,” one of the first radio and television simulcasts, in June 1948 for CBS.

He went on to direct episodes of the original “Batman,” “The Love Boat,” “My Three Sons,” “That Girl” and “The Patty Duke Show,” as well as “The Millionaire” and “Petticoat Junction.”

In 1967 alone, he directed episodes of “Ironside,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Petticoat Junction,” “My Three Sons,” “That Girl,” “The Fugitive” and “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” according to the Times.

By the 1970s he was directing episodes of “Love, American Style” and “Sanford and Son.” In the 1980s, he worked on episodes of “M*A*S*H,” “Knots Landing” and “The Waltons.”

His first credited directing job was for “Mr. Peepers” (1952), starring Wally Cox. His last was an episode of “Sledge Hammer!” (1986), a police-show parody on ABC.

James Sheldon was born in Manhattan in 1920. Besides his son Tony, he is survived by another son, James Jr., and three grandsons.