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Negro Helps Direct “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” First of His Race

Jan. 30, 1963 - Now that Wendell Franklin has been working a few months as second assistant director of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” he is able to put in perspective what it means to be the first Negro to do directing work on a Hollywood movie. “I was terribly nervous at first,” he said. “I had to absorb the know-how from men who had been in the business 30 years or more. The only man I knew when I went to work was George Stevens.” Mr. Stevens, the producer-director of the movie about Jesus, hired Mr. Franklin. “I did not think it would be right for me to go to Mr. Stevens and ask him what was the proper protocol in dealing with the men and women in the picture,” said Mr. Franklin. “I felt I had to work these things out by myself. It took about five weeks before I felt at ease.” Mr. Franklin believes the subject of the movie may have helped make the adjustment easier for him. Mr. Franklin has worked in show business since the 1940s, on both sides of the camera.

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