2004 Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement
Dallas, Edge of Night, Eight is Enough–these television series were household names long before “must-see TV,” and Philip Capice played an integral role in them all.
After graduating from Dickinson, where he was a founding member of the Mermaid Players and the Follies, Capice earned an MFA in dramatic arts from Columbia University. He hoped to work in theatre, but in the mid-50s the relatively young field of television afforded more opportunities. In 1954 he joined the television-production department of a large New York advertising firm, Benton & Bowles.
Initially, Capice produced live TV commercials for Benton & Bowles-sponsored programs and in 1957 he began work on two CBS soap operas created by the ad agency: As the World Turns and Edge of Night. His roles behind-the-scenes ranged from associate producer to scriptwriter to director on the long-running series.
In 1964 Capice became Benton & Bowles’ vice president for program development and was involved in the creation of client-owned shows like The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, USMC. In 1969 he joined CBS as director of special programs. During his five-year stint at the network he developed a variety of specials, including animated programs featuring Charlie Brown and Dr. Seuss; musical specials with the likes of Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein and Vladimir Horowitz (to name a few); National Geographic specials; and dramatic programs such as “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” which became the basis of the weekly series The Waltons.
In 1974 Lorimar Productions, the fledgling Los Angeles production company that produced The Waltons, invited Capice to become senior vice president for creative affairs. He accepted their offer, moved from New York to Los Angeles, and during the next dozen years developed and produced scores of TV pilots, series, movies and miniseries for Lorimar.
Among Capice’s prize-winning productions were “Sybil,” for which he earned an Emmy and a Peabody Award in 1977; “Green Eyes,” which won a Peabody and the Humanitas Prize in 1978; “Some Kind of Miracle,” which garnered the Christopher award in 1978; and Dallas, a popular favorite with eight People’s Choice Awards.
In 1978 Capice became president of Lorimar, but he found that the administrative responsibilities of the job took him away from the creative programming he so enjoyed. He opted to return to production, structuring an exclusive agreement with Lorimar that allowed him to produce programs through his independent company, Raven’s Claw Productions (fondly named after the Dickinson honorary society of which he was a member).
For the next several years, Capice concentrated on Lorimar’s flagship series, Dallas and Eight is Enough, which consistently ranked among the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings. In 1986 he decided to step back from the high-energy business and retired to his home in the Hollywood Hills, where he lives today.
Capice has been a member of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and The Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors. He joined the Dickinson Board of Advisors in 1978. In 1990 he was named to the Board of Trustees, on which he continues to serve as an emeritus member.
As a student, Capice was an active member of Dickinson clubs and honorary societies. Along with his dramatic activities, he was president and soloist in the college choir, news editor of The Dickinsonian, president of Alpha Psi Omega (dramatic honorary), vice president of Pi Delta Epsilon (journalism honorary), a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (academic honorary), and a member of Phi Kappa Psi, Skull & Key and Raven’s Claw.
Of his service to the college, Capice says, “One of the happiest experiences I’ve had has been the opportunity to continue my affiliation with a place I love so much.”
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