Winter 2006

Wendell Franklin

Member, 1960-1994

“I had a hard time when I walked on some lots. I got the treatment now and then - from actors, from crew, from production men. They gave me a rough time, but hell, I didn’t expect it was going to be easy,” wrote Wendell Franklin in his autobiography. Franklin overcame many obstacles to become the first African-American to join the DGA in Los Angeles in 1960, and only the second African-American stage manager hired in television. When NBC established a policy to hire minorities, Franklin landed a job - in the parking lot. Four years later, he became a stage manager and joined the Radio and Television Directors Guild. But tough times in live TV meant he was back working in the parking lot. That’s when DGA National Executive Secretary Joe Youngerman asked if Franklin would like to be an AD on movies. Franklin’s first job was for director George Stevens on The Greatest Story Ever Told, and his hiring garnered national media attention. At the Guild, Franklin was active on the AD/UPM Council and a driving force in the creation of the Ethnic Minority Committee.


The Legends column began as part of the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the DGA in 2006 to profile Guild members who have made outstanding contributions to their Guild in service and leadership.

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