Academic journal article Film & History

Don Staples: Teacher, Scholar, Administrator, Filmmaker

Academic journal article Film & History

Don Staples: Teacher, Scholar, Administrator, Filmmaker

Article excerpt

In 1968 I was close to completing a four-year stint with the United States Marine Band. Having decided to enter a graduate film program once my military obligation had ended, I embarked on a journey around the country looking at possibilities. One of my stops was The Ohio State University, where I was to meet Dr. Don Staples for the first time. He was a faculty member there, and I remember being impressed with his positive attitude and enthusiasm, in addition to his wide-ranging background in both film production and cinema studies. I started my graduate work and academic career at Temple University the following year, while Don moved on to New York University. Ultimately we would join up on the same faculty at the University of North Texas when I moved there in 1990.1 remember how helpful and forthcoming Don was upon our arrival in Denton, and we remained colleagues through his retirement in 2004. We continue to talk on a regular basis, and I was pleased indeed to be asked to participate in this well-deserved encomium.

Don Edward Staples was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Nashville, Tennessee; He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1955-57. He has a B.S. from Northwestern University, an M.A. from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Don has many years of experience as a director and actor in films, television commercials, and radio, and he is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. He has established a distinguished record as a teacher, administrator, and scholar, publishing no less than four books and numerous articles in addition to many other significant professional accomplishments.

Don Staples taught film production at Southern Illinois University from 1963-1965 before moving on to Ohio State. In 1969 he took a position at New York University where he founded the doctoral program in Cinema Studies, teaching there until 1980. Don was hired as chair of the Department of Speech and Drama at the University of North Texas (then North Texas State) in 1979, and, during his time in that position, he established the Division of Radio, Television, and Film, moving it forward as only Don knows how-in dramatic fashion. During his career at UNT he maintained a distinguished record of service to the department, the college, and the university far beyond the call of duty. Among his accomplishments was the founding of NTTV, the department's television channel, mounting a successful effort to increase the power of its FM radio station to 100,000 watts, and countless other achievements that benefited both faculty and students.

His tenure as chair ended in 1986, with Don continuing to teach until his retirement in 2004, when the Donald Staples Scholarship was established, to be awarded each year to a deserving graduate student in the RTVF department. He now holds the title Professor Emeritus.

Don has been president of both the Society for Cinema Studies (now the Society for Cinema and Media Studies - SCMS) and the University Film Association (now the University Film and Video Association - UFVA). Over the years Don has also been very active as a member of CILECT, Centre International de Liaison des Ecoles de Cinéma et de Télévision, the principle organization of film and television schools worldwide. He has been vice-president of the group, continues to attend its meetings, and actively encourages colleagues to participate. What follows are comments from Don's colleagues, former students, and friends submitted especially for this tribute.

Comments from Don Staples on Two of His Areas of Research:

John Huston and Me

My rusty old LST 988 steamed into Tobago Bay one morning in the spring of 1957. It is said that John Huston jumped up from his breakfast table and exclaimed, "They told me that all of those WWII LSTs had been junked and were out of commission!" Two weeks later the USS Mineral County returned, having been loaned by the Navy Department to Twentieth Century-Fox for Heaven Knows, Mr. …

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