Donald Chaffey (5 August 1917 – 13 November 1990) was a British film director, writer, producer, and art director.

Don Chaffey
Chaffey c. 1965
Donald Chaffey

(1917-08-05)5 August 1917
Died13 November 1990(1990-11-13) (aged 73)
Kawau Island, New Zealand
  • Film director
  • writer
  • film producer
  • art director
Years active1948–1989
Edna Judd Chaffey
(m. 1940; died 1981)
(m. 1985)

Chaffey's film career began as an art director in 1947, and his directorial debut was in 1953. He remained active in the industry until his death in 1990 from heart failure. His film Charley One-Eye (1973) was entered into the 24th Berlin International Film Festival.[2]

He is chiefly remembered for his fantasy films, which include Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963), One Million Years B.C. (1966), The Viking Queen (1967), Creatures the World Forgot (1971), Pete's Dragon (1977), and C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979), his final feature film.

Concurrent with his theatrically released films, Chaffey directed episodes of numerous British television series, including multiple installments of Danger Man, The Prisoner, and The Avengers. From the 1980s until his death, all of his work was in American made-for-TV movies, and in such TV series as Fantasy Island, Stingray, MacGyver, Vega$, T. J. Hooker, Matt Houston, and Charlie's Angels.



Chaffey began his career in the art department of Gainsborough Pictures where he worked as a draftsman on Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945), The Rake's Progress (1945), and Caravan (1946). He was art director of The Adventures of Dusty Bates (1947) and The Little Ballerina (1948). He directed the documentary shorts Thames Tideway (1948) and Cape Cargoes (1948).[3]

Chaffey directed the short features The Mysterious Poacher (1950) and The Case of the Missing Scene (1950). He returned to the art department for King of the Underworld (1950), The Stolen Plans (1952), Murder at the Grange (1952), Murder at Scotland Yard (1952), and Black 13 (1953).



Chaffey resumed his directing career with the family film Skid Kids (1953). He made the short Watch Out (1953), then did Strange Stories (1953), Bouncer Breaks Up (1953, a short), The Mask (1952), and A Good Pull Up (1953).

Chaffey directed Time Is My Enemy (1954). After the short Dead on Time (1955) he made The Secret Tent (1956), The Flesh Is Weak (1957) and The Girl in the Picture (1957).

He directed episodes of TV series like Theatre Royal, The Adventures of the Big Man, Chevron Hall of Stars, The Errol Flynn Theatre, Assignment Foreign Legion, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Dial 999, and The New Adventures of Charlie Chan. He interspersed these with features like A Question of Adultery (1958), The Man Upstairs (1958), Danger Within (1959), Dentist in the Chair (1960), Lies My Father Told Me (1960), and Nearly a Nasty Accident (1961).[4]

Disney and fantasy


He directed Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog (1961), then A Matter of WHO (1961), a version of The Prince and the Pauper (1962) for Disney, and The Webster Boy (1962).[5]

He had a big hit with Jason and the Argonauts (1963) with Ray Harryhausen. Then it was back to Disney for The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963).[6]

Chaffey directed They All Died Laughing (1964), The Crooked Road (1965), and One Million Years B.C. (1966) for Hammer. He returned to television to do episodes of Danger Man, The Baron, The Prisoner, Man in a Suitcase, Journey to the Unknown, The Avengers, The Pathfinders, and The Protectors.

Chaffey did The Viking Queen (1967) for Hammer, A Twist of Sand (1968), Creatures the World Forgot (1971) for Hammer, Clinic Exclusive (1973), Charley-One-Eye (1973), and Persecution (1974).[7]

Australia and US TV


Chaffey went to Australia where he directed Ben Hall (1975), Ride a Wild Pony (1975), The Fourth Wish (1976), and Shimmering Light (1978).[8]

He worked in America too making CHiPs, Pete's Dragon (1977) for Disney, The Magic of Lassie (1978), Lassie: A New Beginning (1978), The Gift of Love (1978), C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979), and Casino (1980).[9]

He eventually focused almost exclusively on episodic TV: Vega$, Charlie's Angels, Strike Force, Fantasy Island, Gavilan, The Renegade, Lottery!, Hotel, Matt Houston, Finder of Lost Loves, International Airport (1985, a pilot), Spenser: For Hire, Hollywood Beat, Airwolf, Hunter, Outlaws, MacGyver, Stingray and Mission: Impossible.[3][6]

Personal life


Don Chaffey was married to Edna Chaffey for 40 years until she died in 1981 of cancer. Together they had one daughter, Nicolette Chaffey.

He then married American actress Paula Kelly in 1985. Chaffey died of a heart attack in 1990 in a house he owned in New Zealand.[10]








  1. ^ Don Chaffey at IMDb. Retrieved 26 March 2013. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ Awards for Charley One-Eye at IMDb   [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ a b "Don Chaffey; Directed Films, TV, Disney Features". Los Angeles Times (Home ed.). 19 November 1990. p. 24.
  4. ^ Nepean, Edith. "Round the British Studios: "Danger Within"". Picture Show. Vol. 72, no. 1866 (3 January 1959). London. p. 11.
  5. ^ "The Prince and the Pauper, The". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 29, no. 336. London. 1 January 1962. p. 83.
  6. ^ a b Bergan, Ronald (3 December 1990). "Disney and the Argonauts". The Guardian. p. 39.
  7. ^ "Desert Bondship". The New York Times. 19 April 1973. p. 52.
  8. ^ Lightman, Herb A. "Film-Making "Down Under"". American Cinematographer. Vol. 57, no. 9 (Sep 1976). Hollywood. pp. 980, 982–985, 1022–1023, 1054–1056.
  9. ^ Fisher, Bob. "Behind the Camera on Pete's Dragon". American Cinematographer. Vol. 58, no. 10 (Oct 1977). Hollywood. pp. 1026–1029, 1082–1083.
  10. ^ Staff writers (19 November 1990). "Don Chaffey; Directed Films, TV, Disney Features". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 November 2019.