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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 24 September 1932Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 15 February 2016Woodland Hills, California, USA  (complications of Parkinson's disease)
Birth NameMary I. Weaver

Spouse (1)

Jack Dodson (28 August 1959 - 16 September 1994) (his death) (2 children)

Trivia (12)

Sister of Fritz Weaver.
Widow of Jack Dodson.
Working as a Set (Scenic) Designer (NY Union #829) with NY-Network NBC TV Studios, Mary Weaver (Dodson) was Johnny Carson's Tonight Show Art Director. When Carson's interview show visited Burbank for a series of by-coastal Network appearances, Mary traveled with the production, usually having a West Coast (NBC-Burbank) Art Director acting as a liaison studio assistant, who was John Shrum. Jack Dodson, Mary's actor husband, became a permanent series regular on Andy Griffith's "Mayberry" family. Mary Weaver and Jack resettled in Los Angeles living in the San Fernando Valley, raising two daughters, Amy and Cristina. Mary's NY-Network affiliation made her West Coast move accepting Network TV projects and commercials. After moving West, Mary added (Jack) "Dodson" for her credit, dropping "Weaver" explaining why her name appears, sometimes, Mary Weaver Dodson.
Moving from New York, Mary Weaver had been at the NBC's Network Studios as a Union #829 member Scenic Designer. New York's Network standard credit for art direction was designated as a Scenic Designer. In Los Angeles, Mary transferred by accepting Milt Altman's various job offers at the Burbank NBC Studio. John Shrum was the Art Director on "Days of Our Lives" (day-time drama soap pilot and subsequent series). Mary took over Art Direction duties on the series "Days Of Our Lives" relieving Shrum to accept other Network assignments. Mary Dodson joined "IATSE #876 - The Society of Motion Pictures and Television Art Directors". Mary was the first woman to become a member of this male dominated membership roster. (Note: #876 became #800, The Art Directors Guild. This consolidated representation, putting crafts under one umbrella, initiated by the International IA Board, now includes all art department related personnel including: Set Designers, Continuity-story Board Artists, Matt Artists, Set Illustrators, Scenic Artists, Graphics and Sign Painters).
In 1975-76, the film Producer's Roster was opened, allowing television art directors and designers to be listed on the Art Director's #876 (IATSE) Film Roster "available listing", which allowed active television artists-union-members for employment in the film industry. Mary Dodson made the move into film-television series production. Universal-MCA Television's Art Deparrtment, with Bill DeCinzes and Ray Brandt in charge, hired many art directors from NBC's TV art department to fill the film studios Art Director and Assistant Art Director positions. Universal-MCA's prolific television series, pilot and Movie of The Week (MOW) projects provided product to the three networks (ABC TV, CBS TV, and NBC TV) during the 1970s-1990s. Mary Dodson's career encompassed many diverse television projects bouncing from varied production companies and network affiliations.
Dodson, believed to be the first woman to become a member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Art Directors (now the Art Directors Guild).
The four-time Emmy Award nominee was the sister of actor Fritz Weaver and the wife of Jack Dodson, who played Howard Sprague on 'The Andy Griffith Show.'.
A remarkable life: Mary Weaver Dodson, September 24, 1932 -- February 15, 2016, died at age 83 in an assisted living hospital, Woodland Hills, on an early Monday morning, from complications of Parkinson's disease, and a stroke.
With Jack, Mary, Christina and Amy Dodson family's move back to New York City in 1972, after Jack's series Mayberry R.F.D. was canceled, Jack sold his collector vintage 1938 Buick 80 Roadmaster 4 door Convertible Phaeton automobile, painted peanut butter-cup beige with a beige convertible top fabric. Because Jack had invested in the automobile's complete restoration after his original purchase, Mary had nick-named the beast "Dodson's folly gold mine vault." Jack nick-named his '38 Phaeton "Casablanca" - since after seeing the 1942 Warner Brothers Best Picture Academy award feature "Casablanca," starring Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, Paul Henried as Victor Laszlo, and Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault, Dodson had always wanted the same '38 Buick 4-door convertible Phaeton car seen in the film's final scene. The studio could not film at night on location. The French Morocco exterior fog shrouded air-strip set was a built set on a WB studio sound stage. The airplane was a false perspective flat constructed scenic profile spotted at the far end of the stage. The '38 Buick Phaeton was a prominent set dressing piece, the automobile positioned on camera left as background. The climax of the feature has Rick Blaine and Captain Renault walking arm-in-arm into the French Morocco foggy night. Jack Dodson sold his 1938 Buick Convertible Phaeton for $13,500.00, placing the funds in their bank roll to pay for their NYC Broadway return engagement.
Hub Braden, in the spring of 1982, was asked by the Lorimar art department supervisor Richard "Dick" Haman to prepare and to work with - in the best Hollywood tradition - a family-off-spring group of Lorimar Production executives' junior siblings who were placed in production show department positions for a "video-taped" Lorimar Productions-CBS TV network pilot. Lorimar was primarily a "film-union-production-unit." Dick Haman, department supervisor of the Lorimar Production's art department, hired Braden specifically - because of Braden's video-tape design background - to work on the Lorimar television network video-tape pilot "Cass Malloy - She's The Sheriff" - for CBS TV. Hub brought in art director and set decorator, as his collaborator, Mary Dodson, to help develop the project's scenic elements and set decorating; to deal with - in the best Hollywood tradition - the Lorimar producers' family of "kids" learning how to produce as the show-pilot's production team. The comedy pilot was primarily a Lorimar first adventure to test the "video tape" production arena outside of the Warner Brothers and MGM "film" lot environments, instead of utilizing the usual "filmed type" comedy television-film show program format; to train the Lorimar executive's fresh young - relatives, sons and daughters, entering the television-film producing and directing ranks. The pilot was rehearsed and "video-taped" at the Paramount Television KTLA facility in Hollywood, instead of being produced at the MGM Film studio union controlled Culver City lot, a Lorimar Production - film lot headquarters, avoiding union jurisdictional (off-sight) staff requirements in the producing and directing departments. Hub and Mary, although sharing a MGM/Lorimar Production's art department office, located above the MGM Commissary, had to meet the Lorimar family production team, off-lot-mid-day, at the Hollywood KTLA parking lot, working off the trunk decks of their automobile to show-and-tell, discuss set wall-paper, paint color sample-choices, set drafting plans, sketches and illustrations, cardboard 1/4 inch scale set models - for approvals by the "family's" first time director and first time producing team. In other words, Hub and Mary were the professionals collaborating, teaching the "Judy & Mickie" kids to put the spring pilot project into the works! The Braden-Dodson team designed the Sheriff Cass Malloy station-office set's floor plan specifically like a television day-time "soap" drama set. A left side corridor-hall way acted as a camera aisle allowing the TV color camera to video upstage angle (and reverse angle) shots deep within the main stage sheriff's bull-pen set's depth. The right stage of the Sheriff's pit-office provided another camera aisle for a fourth camera to video the shots of the main sheriff bull-pen's deep central set's entrance, office desks, booking desk-station counter and the up-stage jail cells. The first time inexperienced director did not know how to coordinate five video cameras and camera-operators. He set his video color cameras on a rail-road-path horizontal tracking aisle, rarely moving his camera team up into the deep set's camera aisles for reverse angle shots and scene coverage. The actors blocking and motivation was staged on the stage set's apron path area, on the same parallel camera track path, rarely allowing the actors to move upstage to perform within the set's central focus production stage area. The lady Sheriff Cass Malloy role was performed by comedian and newcomer Annie Potts. Upon completion of the pilot, the sets were struck and stored in the Hollywood KTLA scene dock. After several years, Lorimar art department supervisor Dick Haman retired from Lorimar Productions, replaced by art director Frank Grieco Jr. The CBS network decided to pick-up the forgotten "Cass Malloy - She's the Sheriff" pilot, recasting Priscila Burnes in the Annie Potts role. During early production of the renamed series "She's The Sheriff," Suzanne Somers was brought in to replace Priscila Burnes. Frank Grieco, after taking over Dick Haman's Lorimar Culver City studio's production art department supervisor position, initially cleaned out all of the Lorimar art department's (archive-storage) show drafting file drawers in the MGM art department. Dick Haman's office had been the original MGM art department office of Cedric Gibbons. Haman had saved all of his special pet projects' original show drafting's beneath his desk, on his desk's left side. Upon the transition of the art department supervisor position, Grieco Jr. ordered a dumpster where everything was cleared out of Haman's office and in the MGM art department file drawers. Hub Braden received an urgent telephone call from Grieco Jr. requesting the original drawings for the "Cass Malloy - She's The Sheriff" stage-set designs. Braden was on a distant location for a current assignment, instructing Grieco to look under Haman's desk for the original drafting and prints. Afterwards, Hub called the department's secretary to find out if Frank Grieco Jr. had found the original drawings. The secretary giggled, telling Hub - "the Lorimar art department's 'clean-out' included Dick Haman's private 'show-hold-print-original drawings collection gallery' - that piles of drawings and drafting were the first things thrown into the dumpster when Frank took over Dick's office." The Hollywood KTLA studio scene dock charged Lorimar for the on-hold scenery, where the scenery had been stored and held for two years. These charges for the scene dock storage were closed by Lorimar, with orders that the TV show's four stage sets and set dressing be demolished. Braden and Dodson were not offered a "Lorimar return engagement replicating the original set designs." Frank Grieco Jr. and his art director Bill Brzeski had to design all new stage sets and scenery for the new CBS TV's "She's The Sheriff" series, (1987-1989-a-two year flop).
Mary was a very a very special person, a talented illustrator, theatrical and interior designer, in her communication skills. Her early '60s association with fellow NBC Burbank network colleague art directors and film industry designers include the following: John Shrum, Hub Braden, Ed Flesh, Jay Krause, Spencer Davies, Rene Lagler, Roy Christopher, Jan Scott, Dick Stiles, Mary Ann Biddle, Don Remacle, Bill Morris, Bob Kelly, Frank Swig, Robert "Bob" Boyle, Gene Allen, Tom John, Jim Trittipo, Romain Johnston, Charles Lisanby, Bill Newmon, Bernie Yeszin, Molly Joseph, Ed Stephenson, Archie Sharp, Jack Taylor, Milt Altman, Art Trugman, Leslie Parsons, Brian Bartholomew, Keaton Walker, Frank Richwood, Ret Turner, Ray Agayan, Bob Mackie, Michael Travis, Richard James, Herman Zimmerman, Paul Barnes, Bill Harp, Gene Callahan, Gary Smith, Gene MacAvoy, Johnny Bruce, John Jefferies. All of the designers became life-long cohorts-and-friends. Mary, after relocating to Los Angeles in 1965, retaining membership in the NYC Scenic Designers IATSE #829 union, joined the Los Angeles art director's film and television union, the first woman inducted as an art director in The Society of Motion Picture and Television Art Directors Guild, IATSE #876, (reorganized by the IATSE as Art Directors Guild #800, production designers, art directors, scenic artists, illustrators, set designers, model builders, graphic [arts] and title artists). During Dick Stiles chairmanship of the Art Director's Guild #800 - Scholarship Award Committee, Mary Dodson and Hub Braden both served on the scholarship-applicant judging panel until the committee chair Dick Stiles' demise on November 24, 2008. Mary's membership in the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences originated in the New York branch, and her active membership was transferred to the west coast branch when she moved to Southern California.
Mary's father John Carson Weaver was a social worker in Pittsburg, (b.1896 - d.1985, at age 89), and her mother was Elsa Stringer Weaver of Italian descent, (b.1897 - d.1984, at age 87). The Weaver's first born son was actor Fritz William Weaver, born January 19, 1926, a second son followed named Daniel, with daughter Mary born September 24, 1932, all siblings born and raised in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Mary graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater arts from the City of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Institute of Technology. (Alumi reference Carnegie Tech as an abbreviation. In 1967, with support from Paul Mellon, Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to become Carnegie Mellon University). Jack Dodson, her future-to-be-(high school romance and) husband, was also a native of Pittsburgh, born on May 16, 1931, (d.-September 16, 1984, age 63, of a heart attack). After receiving a BFA Carnegie Tech. theater degree, Mary relocated to New York City, her theatrical career inaugurated as an NBC-RCA Rockefeller Center network television scenic-set designer - art director. After marriage in 1959 to Jack Dodson, the duo maintained a New York city apartment while husband Jack performed on Broadway stage productions and commercials. They had two beautiful and talented daughters, Christina and Amy, both born in New York City. Often acting-gigs occurred for Jack, who became a bi-coastal performer in commercials and on west coast television film and video projects. Jack became a regular cast mate on the filmed "Andy Griffith Show" in 1966, and continued with Andy Griffith's filmed "Mayberry R.F.D." from 1968 through 1971. Jack and Mary relocated in late-1965 to the San Fernando-Northridge valley because of Jack's film series-work-schedule. Mary was Johnny Carson's NYC "Tonight Show" art director (1962,1963,1964,1965), and had been introduced to the west coast NBC TV Burbank studios during Johnny's variety-interview show's bi-coastal (trade-off sweeps-week appearances) for four week guest interview programming specials. After the theatrical couple relocated to Northridge, Mary secured free-lance art direction duties at the NBC Network's Burbank TV studio. In 1966-67, Mary replaced art director John Shrum on his new NBC daytime soap drama series (1965) "Days of our Lives." Bill Morris and Mary collaborated on the ABC TV comedy-music series "Jimmy Durante and the Lennon Sisters" in 1969. Jack moved the family from their Northridge residence back to New York City in 1972 so that he could perform on Broadway theatrical projects with his friend Jason Robards. The Dodson family with their two daughters Christina and Amy returned to reside in Van Nuys in 1973. Mary resumed art direction assignments at the NBC Burbank television studios, primarily with the NBC Art Department, secondarily with NBC Telesales Division, on productions and commercials produced at the Burbank television facility. When the Producers IATSE Union Roster was opened to include television members in mid-May-1976, Mary's television art director category expanded to film project availability. Universal-MCA Film Studios began hiring every television design member available to fill out their needs and requirements for all of their film television product staffing needs. Universal Studios art department managers, Bill DeCinces and Ray Brandt, cleaned out all of the NBC, ABC and CBS TV art department art directors, assistant art directors, set decorators and drafting-set designer personnel.

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