December 16, 2013
Associate Director/Stage Manager/Production Associate (AD/SM/PA) Council East member Vincent M. DeDario will become the 24th recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which will be presented at the DGA Awards ceremony later this month. The Schaffner Award is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of their service to the industry and DGA.
The Schaffner Award recipient is chosen by his/her peers on the Council. Asked why DeDario was chosen to receive one of the Guild’s highest honors, AD/SM/PA Council East Chair Joyce Thomas answered, “Vince DeDario joined this Guild in 1969, the same year that we first landed on the moon. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he brought that ‘can do’ spirit from that marvelous era into everything that he’s done since then. Whether it’s being the voice of sports on our Council, educating and mentoring younger members, or simply lending the gravity of his nearly half a century of experience, there’s no doubt that his presence has been a benefit to us all. He has helped to make this Guild better. So if anybody is worthy of the Schaffner Award, it’s Vince DeDario.”
In the nearly 45 years that he has been a member of the Guild, DeDario has served ten terms as either an alternate or member of the Eastern and Western AD/SM/PA Councils, including a term as First Vice Chairperson of the Eastern Council from 2006-2008. His DGA service also includes being a delegate to the biennial convention. His resume also contains a lengthy list of world class sporting event credits including Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl, Major League Baseball and the World Series, the Indianapolis 500, the Kentucky Derby, the Tour de France, numerous Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and many events that were featured on ABC’s classic program Wide World of Sports.
However, long before he got his DGA card and sat in a control booth bringing the world of sports to television, DeDario dreamed of a life as an actor. “I was out in Los Angeles getting odd jobs during the night and acting jobs during the day,” DeDario recalls. “I joined ABC as a page and after two years when my daughter came along I thought, ‘I’ve got to get a better paying job.’ So I got a job in the operations department putting out the daily logs. When I was delivering them I started looking at the jobs that the DGA members did in the studios putting the shows on the air. That seemed very interesting to me.”
In 1969, DeDario landed a job rolling in local commercials during the station breaks and entered the Guild as an Associate Director. While it paid the bills it wasn’t his passion. “I wanted to do shows that were more exciting and challenging.” So he worked as an AD on American Bandstand for a couple of years and finally met the person who would eventually give him his big break, legendary sports director/producer Don Ohlmeyer.
“Don used to come out and do a half-hour racing show and I was talking to him and said, ‘Sports ADing is a really good job with a lot of travel, good money and interesting work.’ He told me that they usually promoted from within with sports PAs becoming sports ADs so I didn’t think I had much chance. But my name was known at ABC Sports and then when the Winter Olympics happened in 1976, they needed an AD on the Pro Bowlers Tour since everybody else was going to Innsbruck. I did that and a few other sports events and when the Montreal Olympics came along that summer I kept hoping I would get to go but never heard a word. Then I got an interoffice memo with a request for my clothing sizes and that’s how I knew I was going. It was a totally different job than the one I’d been doing for the ABC Network. I learned a lot in Montreal.”
During his time in Montreal one of DeDario’s mentors was 2006 DGA Lifetime in Sport Direction Award recipient Joe Aceti. “He showed me the ropes and at the end of the Olympics Don Ohlmeyer came to me and said, ‘You did a good job for us in Montreal. Would you like to come to New York?’ It was a big move and after talking it over with my wife, we thought I should go for a couple of years to see how it worked out and the rest is history.”
DeDario went on to build an enviable career in sports. In addition to the aforementioned credits, his resume also includes the World Weightlifting Championships, World Gymnastics Championships, World Professional Bodybuilding Championships, professional and amateur boxing, college football and basketball, the America’s Cup, the Ironman Triathlon, and the New York City Marathon. The work has brought him accolades and recognition that include 15 Emmy Awards, the 1988 Clarion Award, and a Gabriel Award. While he’s proud of all his work, he admits that it’s his work with the Special Olympics that holds a hallowed place in his heart.
“I think perhaps my proudest achievement is the three Special Olympics I worked on because of what they were. Those athletes just loved life. At the end of every race there was a group hug. It didn’t matter if they finished first or last, there was someone at the finish line waiting to hug them. The stories we told on some of them were so uplifting. It was really something else.” DeDario not only earned an Emmy Award for one of those Special Olympics programs but a National Media Award from the Downs Syndrome Congress as well.
At the same time he was building a name for himself in his profession, DeDario was also paying it forward. “I was always mentoring new members as they joined the Guild. They would come to me with questions and I even taught a class one time at ABC Sports. Since they promoted from within, they wanted the PAs to learn not just the equipment and the routines, but to keep abreast of the Guild rules.”
DeDario also returned to active duty as a member of the Eastern AD/SM/PA Council after having spent two terms a member of the Western Council during the early days in his career in Los Angeles. “When I went to New York, I had to take a break for a few years from Council work because of my new job and the fact that we travelled so much. But in 2004 I joined the Eastern AD/SM/PA Council. I wanted to be the voice of sports on the Council because at the time there really wasn’t any one there who did only sports.”
DeDario is currently in his eighth term as a member of the Eastern Council. He recalls that his desire to become more involved in his Council stemmed from a desire to not only give back to the organization that had improved his life, but from his desire to learn more about it. “Becoming a DGA member brought me up out of just a regular workplace so I wanted to give some of that back and being on the Council would do that for me. That was almost 40 years ago. I always considered it an honor to be on the Council and I never took it lightly.”
In that spirit, DeDario often tries to plant the seed of Guild service in his advice to newer members. “Be diligent in learning your craft and get involved with your Guild. It was always rewarding for me and you can maybe make inroads to new policies. You learn so much more about the Guild by being on the Council so try to get on it, and if not, at least attend all the meetings you can.”
In spite of all he’s done, both professionally and in service to the DGA, DeDario is still a little taken aback to be the latest recipient of the Schaffner Award. “It’s hard to express in words,” he admits. “To be honest I’m just truly humbled by it. It is such an honor and one that you don’t think will ever happen. I just hope and pray that I’ll do it justice. I feel especially honored because I don’t think that anyone who ever spent their entire career in sports has ever won this award. To me that says maybe even more. I don’t think there’s a better honor than to know that your peers felt you deserved this award.
Past recipients of the DGA Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award
- Dency Nelson (2013)
- Dennis W. Mazzocco (2012)
- Maria Jimenez Henley (2010)
- Scott Berger (2009)
- Barbara J. Roche (2008)
- Terry Benson (2007)
- Donald E. Jacob (2006)
- Stanley Faer (2005)
- Peery Forbis (2004)
- Esperanza “Candy” Martinez (2003)
- Anita Cooper-Avrick (2002)
- Robert N. Van Ry (2001)
- Scott L. Rindenow (2000)
- Robert Caminiti (1999)
- C.J. Rapp-Pittman (1998)
- Joseph L. Dicso (1997)
- Don Lewis Barnhart (1996)
- Larry Carl (1995)
- James E. Wall (1994)
- James “Woody” Woodworth (1993)
- Marilyn Jacobs-Furey (1992)
- Chester O’Brien (1991)
- Mortimer O’Brien (1991)