Melville Shavelson is among a select few directors who wrote or co-wrote every film that he directed. His credits range from the international war drama Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) to the jovial family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours (1968). Beginning his career writing jokes for then-Broadway press agent Milt Josefsberg, Shavelson soon came to write for Bob Hope when he began his radio show, and continuing through Hope's rise into television and films. Hope gave Shavelson him his first big break as a feature director on the film The Seven Little Foys (1955), in which Hope plays the famous turn-of-the-century vaudevillian Eddie Foy. The Seven Little Foys would be the first of several biographical films Shavelson wrote and directed -- a genre he particularly admired for its roots in realism.
With a career spanning nearly fifty years, Melville Shavelson tackled a variety of different genres, from romance to comedy, working with a variety of different actors, from John Wayne to Lucille Ball. Directing for both film and television, Shavelson travelled the world, shooting on-location in Israel, Rome, and Paris. He was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Writing, sharing both nominations with co-writer and long-time collaborator Jack Rose for the films The Seven Little Foys and Houseboat (1958), which he also directed. Later in his career Shavelson focused on biographic films and mini-series for television including The Great Houdini (1976) and Ike: The War Years (1979).
Shavelson served three terms as the President of the Writers Guild of America, West, between 1969 and 1987.