Don Weis

Pajama Party 1965 promo Annette, Donna, Susan Cheryl Sweetnam

‘Pajama Party’ 1964: Susan Hart, Donna Loren, Cheryl Sweeten, Annette Funicello

Don Weis, director of  Pajama Party (1964), provided his own house, complete with swimming pool, for the opening pool party sequence. Credits, obituary, and photo below.

Don Weis: born 13 May 1922, Milwaukee Wisconsin; died 26 July 2000, Santa Fe, New Mexico; 130 screen directing credits 1951 – 1990.

Don Weis directing Janet Leigh and Richard Anderson in "Just This Once" 1952

Don Weis directing Janet Leigh and Richard Anderson in “Just This Once” 1952

Don Weis, 78, film and television director who gained a following abroad for his handling of musical comedies like “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis” has died.

Weis, a Milwaukee native, came west to study cinema at USC. He got his start in the movie business as a messenger at Warner Bros. He made training films for the Air Force during World War II, then became a freelance script supervisor in Hollywood after the war. In the early 1950s, he was given a chance to direct by Dore Schary, then head of production at MGM.

According to Ephraim Katz, author of “The Film Encyclopedia,” Weis developed a following among some European film cultists for his “stylish handling of simple-minded films,” including “I Love Melvin,” “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis” and “The Adventures of Haji Baba,” all produced during the 1950s.

He was a prolific director in television, with credits from episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in 1955 to “Remington Steele,” “MacGyver” and “Crazy Like a Fox” in the 1980s.

LA Times, August 03, 2000

Don Weis

Director of carefree films and musicals – and episodes of M*A*S*H, the hit television series of the 70s

Weis kicked off as a freelance director with the hugely entertaining The Adventures of Hadji Baba (1954), in which dashingly handsome John Derek rescues a sheik’s daughter from a forced marriage.

Weis then disappeared into television, emerging from time to time to make feature films, including Mr Pharaoh And His Cleopatra (1959), made in Cuba and never released. In the same year, he directed The Gene Krupa Story, unaccountably starring vulnerable, baby-faced Sal Mineo … Looking For Love (1964) had pop singer Connie Francis, as a switchboard operator with showbusiness aspirations, singing seven songs.

Another bubble gum movie was Pajama Party (1964); Martian Tommy Kirk drops in on earth teens and joins in their mindless activities. It was sad to see 69-year-old Buster Keaton running around as Chief Rotten Eagle, just as it was to see 79-year-old Boris Karloff playing a corpse hoping to get into heaven in The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini (1966), the seventh, final beach party movie.

After the ghastly Did You Hear The One About The Travelling Saleslady? (1968) starring the utterly unfunny Phyllis Diller, Weis returned to television permanently. He redeemed himself, especially by directing more than 40 episodes of M*A*S*H in the 1970s, winning six Directors Guild of America Awards as the year’s best television director. He also directed dozens of Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, Love Boat and Fantasy Island episodes.

He is survived by his wife, the actress Rebecca Welles; two daughters, a stepdaughter and two grandchildren.

•Don Weis, film and television director; born May 13 1922; died July 26 2000

The Guardian




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