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Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (17)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 17 March 1922Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Date of Death 20 March 2015Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth NameWalter Eliott Grauman

Mini Bio (1)

Walter Grauman was born on March 17, 1922 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA as Walter Eliott Grauman. He was a director and producer, known for Murder, She Wrote (1984), Barnaby Jones (1973) and 633 Squadron (1964). He was married to Margaret (Peggy) Buckley Parker and Joan Taylor. He died on March 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Spouse (2)

Margaret (Peggy) Buckley Parker (1982 - 20 March 2015) (his death)
Joan Taylor (1976 - 1980) (divorced)

Trivia (17)

During World War II he was a pilot in the US Army Air Force, flying B-25 bombers.
Attended the University of Arizona.
Was a member of the board of governors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Began his career in show business as a stage manager at NBC.
Creator and executive producer of the Los Angeles Spotlight Awards.
Was a distant relation of Sid Grauman, known for building Hollywood's Chinese and Egyptian movie theaters. His father was Sid's first cousin.
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and eight other air medals having flown 56 combat missions in Europe during World War II.
Grauman and his wife Peggy were members of the original Buffy Chandler's Los Angeles Philharmonic Founders organization. Their financial support of the Los Angeles Philharmonic included active participation on the board of directors.
Walter Grauman directed the 1963 mystery-horror film "Lady in The Cage" released in 1964. Olivia De Havilland stepped into the role originally announced for Joan Crawford; the following year, De Havilland replaced Crawford in "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte." Walter was extremely proud of the film and with Olivia De Havilland's performance because De Havilland was open and receptive to suggestions during their discussion of the role's level of intensity and fright. "She listened to me," Grauman said, with a nod of his head and a wink.
After his war service, Grauman had a succession of short-lived job experiences, including working as an agent's assistant from offices located on the center of the corridor-belt of Hollywood studios. The office building, on the South-West corner at Western and Hollywood Boulevard was the core of the agents representing talent during the late 1940s and 1950s. The Hollywood corridor-belt included Columbia Studios, Paramount, Warners, Goldwyn, 20th Century Fox's sound stages, KTLA, NBC, CBS, ABC, The Don Lee television facility broadcasting stages, which stretched East and West, on Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards to Prospect and Talmadge Boulevard. Grauman, next, landed a job in the publicity department at Universal Studios, but he felt that local television programs were so terrible, he could do better. Starting as a stage manager at NBC, Grauman's talent, energy and ideas was unbound, when he co-created "Lights, Camera, Action!," a talent showcase/contest for performers, including Leonard Nimoy, who did not win his showcase episode. Grauman went from that show back to NBC where he directed "Matinee Theatre" and the "Lux Video Theatre" anthology live afternoon network programs. Grauman's big break was directing the filmed television program "The Untouchables." TV historian Stephen Bowie wrote in his "Classic TV History" that Grauman's work on the series marked it's "transformation from a simplistic cops-and-robbers shoot-'em-up into a richer , more character driven melodrama." Grauman's credits include numerous episodes of hit TV shows such as "Murder, She Wrote," "Barnaby Jones," "Columbo," "The Fugitve" and "The Untouchables." Graman battling heart and vascular problems, died of natural causes at 93 years of age, at his home on Sunset Vale Avenue, on the foothill behind the famous Sunset Strip's Schaub Drugstore, adjacent the end of the famous Hollywood Sunset Strtip where Sunset joins Beverly Hills.
Walter Grauman's nick name for his wife Peggy - was - "sweet pea". They loved their feline menagerie, giving their pet cats their own bedroom or guest house to hide.
Grauman's Army Air Force B-25 flying bomber unit was based on airstrips located adjacent to Milan Italy. The B-25 squadron of bombers made daily and nightly runs on bombing missions flying over Berlin and other major German cities during the second world war campaign.
Although Grauman was one of the busiest television directors in the 1950s through the 1990s, Grauman had no background in theater nor movies when he got into the business during the live TV era . Sometimes, it was trial by fire. Beginning as a stage manager, his talent working with actors and technical crews recognized and he was promoted to direct live television shows. In 1957, for an adaptation of "Frankenstein" for the "NBC Matinee Theatre," Grauman cast champion boxer Primo Carnera as the monster. At one point Carnera was supposed to pick up a stunt man and carry him a bit before putting him down. But the bulky hulking boxer got carried away. "He grabbed him, he lifts him up like a toy and threw him," Grauman related in a 2009 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences interview, "and the guy went right through the wall of scenery.. Luckily, the stunt man was not badly hurt and the live show went on without interruption. One of those live TV incidents typical of the early madcap examples of pioneer live TV." It was the kind of situation that made Grauman nearly unflappable as a director, including when dealing with stars. When Grauman directed an episode of Universal MCA Studios' "Columbo" mysteries in 1999, actor Peter Falk rejected Grauman's setup of a shot, insisting that a pair of underwear on an actress be worn inside-out with the tag showing, "I thought Falk was crazy, what the hell did that have to do with the story?" Grauman said. "Falk didn't explain it nor was it in the script, but by the end of the filming, the underwear turned out to be clever clue. That sun-of-a-bitch had figured it out in his head," Grauman concluded.
Grauman supported many local art institutions. Harkening back to his "Lights, Camera, Action" television talent show, in the late 1980s Grauman created the Ahmanson Theatre's Spotlight Awards, which annually give free training to local Los Angeles students in music, dance, and acting, culminating in a Spring awards show at the Music Center Ahmanson Theatre. Walter produced and directed the awards showcase.
Grauman was a member of the Los Angeles Hillcrest Country Club. From here begins the storied history of Hillcrest Country Club, the golf club and social arena for Hollywood's Jewish actors, singers, songwriters, producers, and movie moguls in the "golden age" of film. As members of the Club, Hollywood comedians such as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Jack Benny, George Burns, Groucho and Harp Marx, Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, and Danny Kaye, quickly carved out a niche of their own, a special place at Hillcrest where many of them would gather to eat lunch together nearly every day when in town; this was known as "The Round Table." Walter was a member of this elite tribe of entertainers.
The "Murder, She Wrote" production designer Hub Braden noted that Walter Grauman rotated with the show's directing teams, directing four to six episodes a season. Grauman's preparation for his assignment always established a preliminary production meeting, where together, Walter would review the script, scene-by-scene. The back-side opposite Walter's MSW script page included notations for Walter's shot notes, camera angles, actor's positions and movement-motivations. Grauman would let Braden copy his script entirely. Duplicating Walter's entire MSW script bible, Braden sharing Grauman's specific notes with the set decorator and property master. Grauman did his homework, being the most prepared "prepared" director Braden had ever dealt with. Braden first worked with Grauman on the 1986 Irwin Allen produced movie-of-the-week, "Outrage" featuring Robert Preston. Irwin Allen meddled with both director, cinema-photographer, and his cast during production filming. Grauman, always the gentleman, would wax Irwin into a stage of satisfied father figure, allowing the production's progress to conclude in a smooth ride for everyone involved. In directing episodes of "Murder, She Wrote,"during the final denouement scene, the entire cast had to be lined up in a group arrangement featuring Angela Lansbury's "Jessica Fletcher" solving and pointing out the murder-crime suspects exposure. This shot became known as Walter's "The Flying Wing." Grauman's memory was awesome except on one occasion -- filming an exterior scene on a San Fernando Valley golf course, redressed as NYC's Central Park. Arriving on the set on the film shoot day, Walter reversed his camera angles and actor's motivation in the scene. Grauman had forgotten to analyze the sun's position and direction for the cinema-photographer's lighting - back-light set-up. The construction and greens crew had to re-dress the entire golf course green with the set's dressing, including bushes, rocks, fencing, park signs and benches while Walter filmed another area of the location site. Walter had not considered Angela's back-light halo for the staging of the walk-and-talk action. Angela Lansbury preferred to be filmed with her left profile. Walter's shot angles and scene motivation always established this aspect in his directing. Walter's youthful energy and enthusiasm for each day's filming was remarkable because he maintained his energy level throughout the entire day and night of filming activity. His sense of humor factored the harmony of the production's cast and crew. Walter had a wonderful giggle after sharing an antidote during a scene's set-up session.
Born in Milwaukee, where his father owned several movie theaters. Grauman's father's cousin Sid Grauman built the Egyptian and the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Walter Grauman attended the University of Wisconsin for a couple of years and then briefly the University of Arizona before enlisting in the Army during World War II. As a pilot in the Army Air Force, he flew more than 50 missions in Europe and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

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