Melville Shavelson was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and author. He was President of the Writers Guild of America, West from 1969 to 1971, 1979 to 1981, and 1985 to 1987. He came to Hollywood in 1938 as one of comedian Bob Hope's joke writers, a job he held for the next five years. He is responsible for the screenplays of such Hope films as The Princess and the Pirate, Where There's Life, The Great Lover, and Sorrowful Jones, which also starred Lucille Ball. Shavelson also worked as a writer on Hope's radio show, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope.
Shavelson was nominated twice for Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplayâ€”first for 1955's The Seven Little Foys, starring Hope in a rare dramatic role, and then for 1958's Houseboat. He shared both nominations with Jack Rose. He also directed both films.
Other films he wrote and directed include Beau James, The Five Pennies for which he won a Screen Writers Guild Award, It Started in Naples, On the Double, The Pigeon That Took Rome, A New Kind of Love, Cast a Giant Shadow, and Yours, Mine and Ours, which starred Henry Fonda and again with Lucille Ball. It was a comedy about a widow and a widower raising 18 children together. When Ms. Ball later asked Mr. Shavelson how he enjoyed directing her, The Associated Press reported, he replied, â€œLucy, this is the first time I ever made a film with 19 children.â€ Ms. Ball was not amused. In addition to his film work, Shavelson created two Emmy award-winning television series and wrote for a dozen Academy Award shows.