Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (4)

Overview (3)

Born in Albany, New York, USA
Died in Burbank, California, USA  (pulmonary failure)
Birth NameHarry Stephen Ackerman Jr.

Mini Bio (1)

Harry Ackerman was born on November 17, 1912 in Albany, New York, USA as Harry Stephen Ackerman Jr. He was a producer and writer, known for The Flying Nun (1967), Love on a Rooftop (1966) and Gidget (1965). He was married to Elinor Donahue and Mary Shipp. He died on February 3, 1991 in Burbank, California, USA.

Spouse (2)

Elinor Donahue (8 June 1962 - 3 February 1991) (his death) (3 children)
Mary Shipp (1939 - ?) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (4)

He had 2 children with his first wife, Mary: daughter, Susan, and son, Stephen. He also had 4 sons with his second wife, Elinor: Brian Ackerman, Peter Ackerman, James Ackerman, and Chris Ackerman.
He died of pulmonary failure at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA.
Bill Paley (head of CBS), with Noël Coward starring and directing the production, purposely assigned Harry Ackerman to be the official director assisting Noël Coward as the CBS in-house technical-system-booth director for the broadcast (since Noël would be performing the lead role on-camera and on-stage). An actor was assigned as a stand-in to perform the role of Charles in each (first) morning run-through blocking rehearsal. Noël observing monitors and calling the multiple camera shots in the television control booth. Harry Ackerman, functioning as official director, took over the control room when Noël was on camera performing the lead role - Charles, and in the day's second run-through camera rehearsal, and in the third camera dress rehearsal performed to an invited Hollywood audience. Beginning the first studio on-set rehearsal day, Claudette Colbert playing Ruth arrived not yet knowing her words for the first act. She explained that this was not her method and that she had been a film star for twenty-five years. In second place, Claudette was exceedingly bossy, insisted she only be photographed on one side of her face, so all grouping of scenes had to be arranged accordingly. She changed her mind right and left over her wardrobe, with Noël's anxiety that nothing would be ready in time. Claudette was determined to play Ruth as a mixture of Mary Rose and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, very, very slowly. Noël had two stand-up fights with Colbert finding the exchange extremely tiresome because she would not take direction; "she is, within her limits, an excellent actress and these limits she imposes on herself". The first day of camera blocking, Thursday, January 9, (1956), the cast went through the play twice, giving a third performance to most of Hollywood in the evening, not a very slick performance. Claudette uncertain and far, far too slow. Afterwards, Noël asked Claudette to play a bit faster, whereupon she flew at Noël refusing point blank. Noël kept his temper with difficulty, allowing himself one riposte, which was when Colbert said bitterly, "Don't worry dear, you'll never have to see me again after Saturday", to which Noël replied "that it was not after Saturday that was worrying me but until and during Saturday". The following Friday morning, after Noël had been told Thursday night that he was too "grim" in his scenes with Claudette, realizing if he or she allowed their personal feelings to show the play would be ruined. Crushing down on his pride manfully, Noël telephoned Claudette, apologized abruptly for everything including being born and coaxed her round to amiability. Then they each drove to the CBS television studio to view the kine-scope of Thursday night's performance. It really wasn't very good! There were terrific arguments, in the course of which Noël roared for more close-ups and better lighting. Claudette and Noël remained Paolo and Francesca throughout the day. This rapprochement with Noël released her completely to boss everyone else about. Claudette spent a happy few hours telling everyone what to do, how to do it and where to stand while doing it. Then the company gave their second night preview; not much better than the first, but a little. Afterwards, more audience members came round and said how absolutely wonderful they all were. Then Harry Ackerman, the official show director, informed Noël that "we were two and a half minutes over time." Noël sat down then and there cutting judiciously some more good lines. Saturday morning at 9:30 the second kine-scope performance was viewed. Owing to a genuine, but most unfortunate, oversight Claudette had not been told and had to be sent for. She arrived just at the end, fuming and with her hair in curlers. She insisted on seeing the whole thing through, so she was left to it, but not before Noël had delivered a calculated tirade to the 'experts' about close-ups and more close-ups. Noël fairly let fly and when he had finished there was no comeback from anyone except the wretched Harry Ackerman, who said he had some other notes, to which Noël replied that no other notes were necessary and all Noël wanted was close-ups and more close-ups. Meanwhile Claudette sat alone in the second floor CBS projection screening theatre facing the unpalatable truth that owing to her muddling and insistence on only being photographed from one side, during the breakfast scene particularly, all that was to be seen of her was her famous left jawline, whereas Noël was in full face close-up throughout. A few shots were re-set but there wasn't, of course, enough time. The cast in the studio rehearsed with most of the camera shots re-set. Working up to 5:30, the production went on the air at 6:30. When the play started, Noël related that he bounced on, experiencing the curious miracle that happened to him the last time happened again; playing without nerves and on nerves, feeling oddly detached as though he were watching himself from outside. The result was the performance went like a bomb! Claudette performed her hysterical scene well, her first scene too slowly and too sweetly, and managed to bitch up two of her best speeches by fluffing and gasping and panting. Claudette wore tangerine lace in the first act, black and pearls in the second and a grey ghost dress that would have startled Gypsy Rose Lee. Her appearance throughout was charming and entirely inappropriate to the part and the play. Claudette and Noël parted lovingly at the end and that was that. Clifton Webb gave a gentile 'company' party to which everyone all went except Claudette, who lost the way because, she explained to Clifton later, she had mislaid his address. Noël re-acted to Clifton: "To mislay both Clifton's address and a perfectly good friendship in one evening is quite an achievement. God preserve me in future from female film stars. I don't suppose he will, but I might conceivably do something about this myself, too old to go through all these tired old hoops".
In 1976 he formed Harry Ackerman Productions.

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