Daphne Elliott

Obituary
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April 5, 1924 - January 16, 2014 Daphne Elliott, beloved for her indomitable spirit, spunk and keen intelligence, died peacefully of natural causes in Agoura. She was 89. Elliott, a writer, avid naturalist and beloved mother of Zan Dubin-Scott, was one of early TV's few female directors. In 1951, at only 28, she directed NBC TV's "The Big Story," which dramatized true stories of newspaper reporters. She also directed, wrote or produced crime dramas, quiz, game and variety shows. Elliott was blacklisted, as was her husband, the late Charles S. Dubin, also a director. "My father and friends said that mom was blacklisted right along with dad," said Dubin-Scott. "But she never overcame the fear of retribution left by this shameful event, and never confirmed it. The blacklist marked people for life." Elliott didn't hide her initial jitters about working in a male-dominated industry, telling Cue, the Magazine of New York Living, in 1952, that she was "scared silly" to meet the man in charge of "Big Story's" production. "I wondered how to conduct myself," she said. "Should I be gay, charming, wistful, humble? I just didn't know. I finally decided to be as businesslike as I knew how. It worked out fine." Her direction of "Treasury Men in Action," an NBC crime drama, also succeeded, despite concerns by the show's advertiser that it might "take on a feminine flavor" under her hand, she told Cue. While no fan of gratuitous TV violence, Elliott recalled that in her first script, "one character shot himself and another got beat up three times on camera. When it was over, the agency's only complaint was that my treatment was too brutal." Elliott was not afraid of embracing her femininity, however. "Flirting with cameramen will get you nowhere," she told Cue. "On the other hand, I'd never work in slacks, even though I'd be much more comfortable that way." A San Francisco native, Elliott's first passion was acting. After two years at UC Berkeley, she attended New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, then pursued a career in off-Broadway. In TV, she also directed such shows as "Police Story," and wrote and produced quiz shows including ``Quiz Kids.' It is unclear whether Elliott was blacklisted for her own actions or because of her marriage to Dubin. He helped shape early TV by directing shows in the early '50s like "Tales of Tomorrow" and "Omnibus." His career stalled after he appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1958, but he went on to prolific success, eventually directing more episodes of "M*A*S*H" than anyone else. After the blacklist, Elliott specialized in non-TV writing, becoming an editor of House Beautiful Magazine and the North American Newspaper Alliance, and a writer for the "Dinah Shore Show," among others. After raising two children, Elliott became an honored volunteer with the Sierra Club and other wilderness organizations, leading hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains. She lectured about the Greek mythology and astronomical constellations, wrote about Greek myths, and penned opinion columns. In addition to her daughter, Elliott is survived by two nieces, Hattie and Pam. Her son, Shepherd, died in 1996. A memorial will be held at Malibou Lake.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 23, 2014
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