F&M Stories

Archives Intern Directs Displays for Alumnus Filmmaker

Honoring the 100th anniversary of a legendary Hollywood film director is challenging enough, but doing so a year after passing the milestone requires some rescripting.

"With the pandemic, it got pushed off, so that's why I decided to call it 'One-O-One' years of Franklin Schaffner instead of 100," Abby Dotterer said.

A senior at Franklin & Marshall College, Dotterer spent her summer internship with the College Library, curating an exhibit of Franklin J. Schaffner '42, who directed such iconic films as 1970's "Patton" and the original 1968 "Planet of the Apes" and 1973's "Papillon."

In her research and curation for the display cases, the history and German double major worked with the Library's Louise LoBello, research and collections management specialist, and Christopher Raab, associate librarian for archives and special collections.

Dotterer said she picked up where Emma Lane '20 had started before the pandemic stopped the centennial project (Schaffner died 1989) in March 2020. Last year, Lancaster's J.P. McCaskey High School celebrated Schaffner's centennial; this year, the school plans to recognize its alumnus with a lifetime achievement award.

"It was really going off her notes that we could pull everything together and pick out what to put into the case," Dotterer said.

Four display cases, two in Martin Library of the Sciences and two in Shadek-Fackenthal Library, feature highlights of Schaffner's academic and film careers.

Among the items in the first case in Martin are Schaffner's photo as an F&M senior; his original diploma; a 1941 program from the Green Room Theatre, of which Schaffner was president; and his senior yearbook, opened to the Green Room page.

"This is the biographical display case — Schaffner was a government and English double major, and he was president of the John Marshall Law Society," Dotterer said. "He also did a ton of acting. There's your foreshadowing of him and the arts."

Also included is a letter from President Harry Truman that went to military personnel after World War II (Schaffner served in the Navy), but another correspondence displayed in the second case captivated Dotterer.

The letter from former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, written in 1964, thanks Schaffner for his collaboration with her on the 1962 documentary, A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy. At the time, the TV special was considered groundbreaking.

"Recently, Jackie Kennedy had renovated the White House, especially the Rose Garden," Dotterer said, in explaining the purpose for the documentary. "I will not shut up about this letter. It's my favorite thing."

LoBello smiled and said, "We just got a reference question about that letter."

The display cases in Shadek-Fackenthal feature stills and posters from some of the director's films as well as his collaboration with composer Jerry Goldsmith, who scored the music for many of his movies including "Patton," for which Schaffner won an Academy Award as best director.

Dotterer, who plans to pursue library science in graduate school, said, "F&M has been a great launching pad. If I went to a big school, I doubt I'd be doing things like this. I have practical experience going into grad school."

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